North Lenoir defeats West Craven, gets within 1.5 games of ECC lead
LA GRANGE — North Lenoir isn’t out of conference contention yet.
The Hawks defeated West Craven 3-1 Thursday, getting within one-and-a-half games of Ayden-Grifton for the top spot in the Eastern Carolina Conference. The Hawks (11-3, 4-3) have won at least a share of each ECC regular-season crown since the conference’s inception in 2014 and have found their way after a 1-3 start.
West Craven (7-6, 4-3) won the first meeting between the teams 3-2 on March 12, something North Lenoir coach Jackson Massey said was on the minds of the players all day.
“We all knew this was a big game and got some quality at-bats to help,” Massey said. “On the mound, Peyton (Howard) and Trevor (Sears) were lights-out and we had some good plays on offense to make it a good ball game overall.”
Howard allowed just three hits in 5 2/3 innings of action to garner the win, while Sears closed the game without allowing a baserunner for the save.
“It meant a lot to get this win because we lost to them at their place and we needed to stay in the conference race,” Howard said. “I was trying to throw strikes, get ahead in the count and let the defense work behind me.”
North Lenoir did get some big hits, including Ethan May’s RBI double in the bottom of the fifth to close the scoring and provide an insurance run. This was the Hawks’ lowest offensive output during their four-game winning streak, but have averaged nine runs per game since the 4-2 defeat to Ayden-Grifton March 26.
“Since that loss, we’ve been working on a lot of two-strike situational hitting,” May said. “Both of my hits came with two strikes and just driving the ball in the right places.”
North Lenoir will look to get revenge against Washington on the road Tuesday. The Pam Pack defeated the Hawks 5-2 on March 15 in The Swamp.