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Following a pair of pretty bad performances, the Wilson Tobs responded with a pretty good one in dealing the Holly Springs Salamanders a 5-3 Coastal Plain League summer collegiate baseball loss on a Thirsty Thursday in Fleming Stadium.
The Tobs constructed a 5-1 lead after four innings and preserved it behind the pitching of a pair of Belmont Abbey College products, starting right-hander Sam Luchansky and left-handed reliever Jeff Thompson, and a defense that turned four double plays.
“Every day is a new day,” Thompson reasoned. “You put the past behind you and move on. Playing so many games in such a few days — it’s a grind. You can’t dwell on what has happened.”The outcome left both teams with 2-2 second-half East Division records. Holly Springs, 13-19 overall, entered deadlocked for the division lead.
Wilson, off Friday and at Peninsula on Saturday before entering the All-Star break, improved to 11-21. The Tobs next play at home on July 12 against Holly Springs.
Luchansky and Thompson combined to limit the Salamanders to seven hits. In working 6 1/3 innings, Luchansky evened his record at 3-3. Thompson, who played for the Tobs last season, was making just his second appearance — scattering two hits in 2 2/3 innings.
The Crusaders mound duo successfully executed a role reversal.
“This was opposite from school,” Thompson explained. “I usually start and he follows me. It felt really good to go out and help him get the win. He pitched his heart out.”
Head coach Aaron Lynch said Thompson’s role the remainder of the season is unsettled. However, Thompson, a Tobs starter last summer, was not complaining about closing duties.
“I love it,” he declared. “It’s fun to go in there and just let loose for a couple of innings. It’s fun to do different things out there.”
Holly Springs scored first on second baseman Jacob Jaye’s solo home run, a second-inning blast that cleared the highest wall in right field.
The Tobs answered with the next five runs against Salamanders starting pitcher Kent Klyman, from North Carolina State University.
In the Wilson second, right fielder Josh Ladowski, from the University of North Carolina, hammered a double and scored on a sacrifice fly from third baseman Jake Holtzapple, another Tar Heel.
The Tobs boosted their lead to 3-1 with two runs without a hit in the third. Shortstop Austin Fisher drew a walk and he and left fielder C.J. Ballard both circled the bases on a pair of throwing errors on Ballard’s bunt attempt.
Wilson’s two-run fourth featured Ladowski’s single, center fielder Andre Nnebe’s double and catcher Hunter Gore’s double.
Holly Springs relievers Andrew Gnazzi and Phillip Sanderson, a right-hander from D.H. Conley High School, blanked the Tobs next four innings.
The Salamanders also pecked away at the Wilson lead.
Right fielder Adam Sisk drew a walk, advanced to second on a wild pitch and raced home on third baseman Zach Piazza’s two-out single in the sixth. First baseman Brett Brubaker then walloped a solo homer in the seventh.
The Wilson defense backed Luchansky and Thompson, who notched his first save, with double plays in the first, third, seventh and eighth innings. Luchansky also pitched out of a fifth-inning jam, when he walked the bases loaded.
“We minimized our walks, took advantage of their errors and played great defense,” a pleased Lynch assessed. “The guys are really, really ready to play. The big thing was that we pitched a lot better.”
Ladowski triggered the Wilson offense with a 3-for-4 showing and two runs scored. Nnebe contributed a pair of hits.
Lynch was encouraged the Tobs did not wilt when exposed to adversity.
“In the past, we have not been able to overcome some of those bad-luck things,” he admitted. “We feel good about being 2-2 right now. We wanted to be playing well going into the All-Star break — and we’re happy about that.”
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