Warriors rally to Harbor Park win

Published 9:46 pm Thursday, May 5, 2011

Nansemond River rightfielder Dylan Roach throws an Indian River single back into the infield during Thursday’s Southeastern District game at Harbor Park in Norfolk. The Warriors (11-5, 9-4) scored five runs in the bottom of the sixth to turn a three-run deficit into a 9-7 lead and win over Indian River.

NORFOLK — Nansemond River’s baseball team’s opportunity to play a game in the home stadium of the Norfolk Tides wasn’t a lot of fun, until the last two innings.

The Warriors (11-5, 9-4) turned around a 7-4 Indian River lead with five runs in the bottom of the sixth and held on as the Braves put the tying runner on base in the seventh for a 9-7 victory Thursday at Harbor Park, home of the triple-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles.

Hayden Champigny cuts at a pitch during Nansemond River’s game against Indian River Thursday afternoon at Harbor Park, home of the triple-A Norfolk Tides. Nansemond River (11-5, 9-4) trailed 7-4 before scoring five runs in the sixth to take the lead and go on to a 9-7 win over the Braves.

Nansemond River’s been a slugging team most of the season, but the comeback on Thursday took place without an extra-base hit and with the Warriors needing just three singles through the big inning. A little help from the Braves at the right, or wrong, time was the big difference.

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The last two spots in the Warrior order sparked the rally with Ryan O’Hara getting a leadoff walk and Blake Eure shooting a hard single into left.

Tyler Brown bunted both runners up a bag. Josh Howard belted a single into center, bringing in both runners for a 7-6 Brave lead.

Howard reached second in a strange, but as the inning played on, very important fashion.

On a 3-1 pitch to Brandon Lowe, Lowe took the pitch and flipped his bat away thinking he’d drawn a walk. Howard jogged to second. Indian River’s catcher, shortstop and second baseman believed it was a walk as the umpire gave a belated strike call. By that time, Howard was able to continue jogging into second with what went into the book as a stolen base.

Lowe struck out on the full-count pitch but with two outs, Zach Vann sent a bloop just beyond shortstop and Howard raced around from second to score the tying run.

Two hitters later, with Vann on third and Kyle Moore, who had walked, on second, Travis Johnson hit a high pop-up into shallow center. Three Brave fielders let the ball drop, allowing two Warrior runs to come in for the lead.

In the seventh, the Braves put together back-to-back singles against Brown, who pitched in relief from the second inning on for the Warriors, with one out.

Second baseman Josh Howard made a fine play for the second out of the inning, ranging far to his left to field a grounder and spinning to make an accurate throw to second. Shortstop Brandon Lowe gloved a grounder toward second base and stepped on the bag for the final out.

The Warriors answered two Indian River runs in the first with three in the bottom half, all three coming on a triple by Vann. Vann’s drive landed on the warning track a few feet in front of the 399-foot sign in right-centerfield of Harbor Park, a spacious park even by pro baseball norms.

The Braves put four runs up in the second. Howard started on the mound for NR but was replaced one out into the second.

Brown went the rest of the way, allowing one run while striking out eight.

Brown, Lowe and Vann notched two hits each with Vann knocking in four RBI. O’Hara walked all three times he came up and scored twice.

The Warriors return to their home park Friday evening for yet another key district contest, against Great Bridge at 5:30. The Wildcats beat the Warriors 7-1 in their first meeting this season.