Warriors edged out

Published 10:31 pm Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Nansemond River catcher Zach Vann scrambles for the ball after blocking a pitch in the dirt during Tuesday’s game at Western Branch. Western Branch scored one run in the sixth and one in the seventh to edge the Warriors 2-1.

Bruins claim pitcher’s duel over NR

CHESAPEAKE — Nansemond River’s baseball team came within six outs of a season sweep over Western Branch on Tuesday evening.

The Bruins answered just in time to avenge a loss at Nansemond River back in March, scoring once in the sixth and once in the seventh for a walk-off 2-1 district win.

Junior Josh Howard blanked the Bruins through five innings and went the distance on the mound for the Warriors (9-5, 7-4).

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Senior Nick Thompson outdueled Howard to get the victory. Thompson allowed five hits while striking out 10.

Howard’s battery mate, Zach Vann, provided the only offensive help the Warriors could manage.

Vann, a lefty hitter, lined a solo home run over the rightfield fence with two outs in the fourth. Vann’s shot glanced off the top of the fence. Had the Bruin rightfielder had time to get back to the fence, he would’ve had the chance to leap and make a catch, but that’s how quickly Vann’s hit got to and just over the fence.

The Warriors truly threatened in only one other frame against Thompson. In the Warrior fifth, Travis Johnson singled to start the inning and Hayden Champigny doubled into the right-centerfield gap.

Thompson kept the runners stranded, getting a weak grounder followed by two strikeouts to get out of the jam.

One Warrior run looked good enough. Howard cruised through the second, third and fourth innings.

The Bruins opened their fifth with a double, only for Howard to field a bunt and fire to third in time for the first out.

Western Branch stayed with the small ball, and it paid off in the next frame. A leadoff single followed by a successful sacrifice bunt set up the threat. Shane Johnsonbaugh hit a sharp single into center to bring in the tying run.

After a three-up, three-down NR seventh, the Bruins got back-to-back hits with one out in the seventh. C.J. McAndrews doubled deep into the leftfield corner and Michael Donovan raced around from first to score.

Johnson went 2-for-3 at the plate as the only Warrior to notch multiple hits.

The loss snapped a three-game district winning streak for the Warriors. Nansemond River travels to play Oscar Smith Friday at 5:30 p.m.