HEATER. Nash County pitcher Jackson Vick sends a fastball toward home plate during Monday's tournament contest against the Louisburg All-Stars. (Graphic photos by Geoff Neville)
KNIGHTDALE -- Before the game started, members of the Nash County All-Stars coaching staffs reminded their players that the Louisburg foe would probably be the toughest opponent the stars would face this year.
That proved to be a correct assessment as Louisburg put together an effective performance to defeat Nash County by a 13-2 margin in Monday's opening-round contest of the Tar Heel 9-10 District 6 Baseball Tournament.
The event, which utilizes a double-elimination format, is begin staged this week at the Knightdale Community Park in Wake County.
This was the first time the Nash County All-Star team played together, and there were some growing pains involved as the players tried to gel together quickly.
But Louisburg struck first by delivering four runs in the top of the first inning of action.
Three batters reached by consecutive walks, though one of them was tagged out at second base while trying to collect a steal.
But Jacob Whaley and Mike Epps followed with RBI singles, and Austin Edwards drove in a run with a grounder to first base.
The final tally of the stanza was earned when Jordan Durham smacked a run-scoring single.
Nash County then came to the plate, but the first two batters were retired by Louisburg starting pitcher Austin Roberson.
The All-Stars were able to break through when Jackson Vick kept the inning going with a base hit.
Vick used effective baserunning to advance all the way home on three wild pitches, and Nash County had registered its initial run of the showdown.
Cullen Whitley, Nash County's cleanup batter, reached on a hit by pitch, and Whitley would eventually speed home thanks to the wild pitch route.
Roberson, however, settled down and recorded a strikeout to wrap up the inning.
Still, Nash County was back to within 4-2, but it wouldn't take long for the opponent from Franklin County to regain control of the scoreboard.
Louisburg only mustered two hits in the second frame, but three errors and two walks would help the Blue and Orange collect five runs to take charge of the outing for good.
Roberson had the biggest hit of the frame -- a run-scoring double. Roberson would late come home as part of Louisburg's uprising.
Nash County hoped for another solid inning in the second, but Roberson struck out the side in impressive mound fashion.
Three more runs would cross for Louisburg in the third without the aid of a base knock. Instead, three batters reached on walks, and they would all eventually score, including Whaley's theft of home plate.
Nash County put a baserunner on in the third as Nehemiah Browning reached on a two-out walk, but Edwards, in relief for Louisburg, ended the threat with a strikeout.
The contest was eventually called due to the mandatory mercy rule.
Louisburg moved into a winner's bracket contest on Tuesday against Zebulon.
Also Tuesday, Nash County hoped to remain alive in the double-elimination tournament with a contest against either Knightdale or Wendell Blue.
The tourney will condlude either Thursday or Friday evening at the Knightdale Community Park, which is located adjacent to Knightdale High School.
Tickets for all games will be available at the gate.