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Sisk, Lions handcuff Knights

Lewisville lefty fires 1-hitter at NC in 7-0 win

Posted: March 19, 2013 2:51 p.m.
Updated: March 20, 2013 5:00 a.m.
C-I photo by Tom Didato/

NORTH CENTRAL FIRST BASEMAN Ryan Baker and Lewisville’s Jaris Elder watch the action at home plate in the first inning of Monday’s non-region game in Boonetown.

Usually, non-conference games in the middle of league play is a time for baseball coaches to give their second or third starters and/or relievers some valuable time on the mound.
This, however, was hardly your garden variety out of conference game.
With their teams having a relatively light workload for the week, former Wofford baseball teammates Robbie Cash and Billy Keels agreed to trot their respective aces out Monday. In the end, it was Keel’s sophomore left-hander, Evan Sisk, who outdueled Cash’s senior righty, Grayson King, as visiting Lewisville left North Central with a 7-0 victory behind Sisk’s one-hit, complete game gem.
King worked five full innings and when he was lifted after having thrown 73 pitches, he had allowed two Lion runs, both of which came in the top of the fifth. The Francis Marion University signee allowed just two hits while fanning four in a tune-up for Friday’s scheduled start against Region 3-AA foe Fairfield Central in Winnsboro.
“Billy and I agreed that we would both start our aces in this game,” said Cash after his Knights slipped to 6-3-1 on the season. “We had Grayson on a fairly tight pitch count tonight. This should set him up well for his start on Friday.
“I thought he threw the ball real well and did a good job of mixing up his pitches and keeping their batters off-balance.”
King could just as well had not given up a run in a top of the fifth which opened with Christian Coke’s leadoff double to the gap in left center. A comebacker, for the first out, moved the runner over to third. Things turned for the worst when a 3-2 off-speed pitch at the knees of John Robbins just missed the mark as the guests had runners on the corners with one gone. Robbins then swiped second, without a throw, to put runners in scoring position.
J.P. Lewis, batting in the ninth hole, then laid down a near-perfect suicide squeeze bunt. The ball had plenty of backspin on it as Coke scored what would be the game’s winning run on the play while Lewis was safe at first. One batter later, Qua Walls sent a sacrifice fly to center, bringing in Robbins, to make it 2-0. King then retired Sisk on a chopper back to the mound to end his night.
The two-run fifth, by the state’s second-ranked class A entry, came after the Knights’ lone scoring chance of the night went by the boards.
In the bottom of the fourth, Broderick Gaither led things off by rapping a single through the box for the Knights’ lone hit of the night. After taking second on a passed ball, Gaither was joined on base by J.P. Faulkenberry, who worked Sisk for a walk. The pair would advance on a wild pitch.
With one out and first base open, Keels decided not to pitch to King, who was issued an intentional walk. Sisk got out of a sticky situation by inducing an inning-ending and rally killing double play ground out to second baseman Nathan Tucker.
Later, Cash admitted that he thought about calling for a suicide squeeze bunt to try and get the lead run across.
“I thought about it,” he said, “but I was worried that with a slower runner at the plate, had we not gotten the bunt where we needed it to be, they might have been able to turn the double play. Credit (Lewisville’s) defense, though. They moved their second baseman a few shades to his right before the play and that is exactly where we hit the ball.”
Sisk got stronger after that as he worked to just 10 batters in the final three frames, fanning five of them on a night in which he rang up nine strikeouts.
“Sisk is tough,” Cash said. “He hit his spots and changes speed real well. All we can do is tip our hat to him.”
With King in right field to give his arm a rest, the Knights brought Gaither to the mound and the junior lefty walked three consecutive batters --- all of which scored --- and hit one while allowing a single as the Lions went out to a 4-0 lead. Gaither was lifted in favor of freshman Tyler Bowers who allowed a two-run, two-out single to center by Walls to make it 7-0.
Bowers struck out four of the six batters he faced, including fanning the side in the seventh.
In the sixth, however, the Knights allowed five batters to get aboard with one base hit as walks, a hit batter and an error fueled the LHS surge.
Lewisville did its offensive damage this night on just four hits, six walks, two NC errors, along with the aforemetioned hit batsman.
“You can’t defend walks,” Cash said. “We need to make people put the ball in play and give our guys a chance to make plays behind our pitchers.”
On a game which ended in a steady stream of rain, the NC head coach saw a silver lining to the evening.
“Playing in a game like this and facing a pitcher like Sisk is good for our guys,” Cash said. “We have two conference games ahead of us this week. If we go out and play the way we know that we can, then we should be fine.”

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