By Greg Perkins
The Roadrunners lost a pair of nailbiters last week, dropping one-run decisions to both St. Johns and Blue Ridge in the penultimate week of the regular season. While a state tournament bid is most likely still in the cards for Holbrook, those two losses will certainly place the Birds into a tougher part of the bracket when the state tournament begins next week.
Hosting the Redskins in windy conditions on Tuesday, the Roadrunners trailed just 1-0 through four innings. In the top of the fifth that margin grew to three runs, all of which the Birds wiped away in the home half of the frame. The game remained knotted at 3-3 into the seventh, where the Redskins managed to score the winning run in the top of the inning. Holbrook failed to answer in the home half, allowing the Redskins to head for home with a 4-3 win.
Holbrook finished the game with one more hit, but the Redskins finished with one more run.
The Birds collected five hits, but made seven errors in the wind and left five runners stranded. St. Johns committed three errors and left nine on board.
Carlos Quintana went the distance for Coach Brady Pond, facing 34 batters. He gave up the four runs, only one earned, on four hits with five strikeouts and four walks.
At the plate, Shawn Gillespie was one for three with a walk and scored a run. Jacob Baker went one for four with an RBI and scored once. Jesse Spangler went zero for three, but collected one RBI. Ray Searles was two for two and stole one base. Quintana went zero for three, but reached on an error and later scored. Buddy Wagoner went one for three with a double and an RBI.
On Thursday night Holbrook packed up the winter gear and headed for a night game in Blue Ridge, where the Birds forced the highly ranked Yellowjackets into extra innings on a cold evening before losing, 5-4.
After matching each other with first inning runs, the Roadrunners scored three runs in the third to build a lead they held until the sixth, where the home team caught them. The scored remained 4-4 at the conclusion of the seventh, forcing the extra inning, which is where Blue Ridge finished the game with a run in the bottom of the eighth.
Holbrook collected six hits, while the Jackets came away with seven. The Birds made three errors compared to just one by Blue Ridge. Both teams left several runners on base with Holbrook stranding 11 and Blue Ridge leaving nine.
Spangler worked six innings, facing 29 batters. He gave up four runs, only three earned, on four hits with seven strikeouts and four walks. Wagoner pitched 11/3 innings, giving up just one earned run on three hits with one strikeout.
At the plate, Gillespie was one for four, walked and scored once. Baker went two for five. Spangler went one for three, walked once, stole a base and scored. Nikko Ferniza went zero for three, but was hit by a pitch and later scored. Searles went one for two, walked, had one RBI and scored once. Quintana went one for four with an RBI. Lanny Newton-Pender went zero for two, but walked and had an RBI. Wagoner went zero for three, but was hit by a pitch and collected an RBI.
Holbrook headed into the final game of the regular season ranked 19th in power points. After hosting Snowflake on Tuesday, they will have to wait and see exactly where they finish in the bracket in order to prepare for what will be a first round game when the state tournament gets underway next week.
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By Greg Perkins