FAIRMONT — Staying at the top is more challenging than the initial climb, but Fairmont’s not having a problem with either on the diamond this season.
The Golden Tornadoes won their ninth straight game on Tuesday against South Robeson after breaking open a tight contest with a four-spot in the sixth for a 10-3 victory.
Coupled with Whiteville’s 1-0 nine-inning win over South Columbus, Fairmont (11-1, 7-0) now holds a commanding two game lead over the Stallions for first place in the Three Rivers Conference in its quest for another league championship and top playoff seed.
“We’re just trying to keep our players’ heads from getting so big they can’t fit in the dugout,” said Fairmont coach Sandy Thorndyke. “There’s still a long way to go to get to our goal of winning a conference championship. There’s areas we can improve in.”
The Golden Tornadoes have been inconsistent at the plate at times this season — a widespread problem throughout Robeson County baseball — but were able to put pressure on Mustangs’ sophomore starter Dakota Clark early at home. Fairmont opened the game with four straight singles before Cole Lovin’s run-scoring groundout partially stopped the bleeding.
The Golden Tornadoes batted around to lead 4-0 after a frame, more than enough run support for Gage Hardin. Hardin scattered three hits and an unearned run over four innings before leaving in the fifth after walking the first batter he faced.
Julius Caulder, a freshman right-hander and projected replacement at quarterback for Jarrod Neal next fall, loaded the bases with no outs in relief before striking out the side to get out of the inning with minimal damage done.
“I thought I made some pretty good pitches, but I just ran out of gas,” Hardin said after picking up his second win. “Our lineup swung it pretty good today, something we haven’t been doing.”
Chance Leggette drove in four runs for the Golden Tornadoes including a two-run blast to right field during a four-run sixth that put the game out of reach. The Mustangs (5-4, 3-3) made three errors and all extended innings.
“We made too many mistakes out there to beat a good team like (Fairmont),” South Robeson coach Ryan Bullard said. “I thought we did enough on the mound to keep it competitive but the inconsistency in the field hurt our chances. You can’t expect to beat a good team when you do those kinds of things.”
Fairmont softball rebounds
Fairmont’s softball team snapped a three-game league losing streak Tuesday with a 9-7 win over conference rival South Robeson.
Reach Brad Crawford at 910-272-6111 or on Twitter @MrPalmettoSDS.
Fairmont 10, South Robeson 3
South Robeson 000 120 0 — 3 6 3
Fairmont 400 114 x — 10 9 4
WP — Gage Hardin. LP — Dakota Clark. S — Julius Caulder.
Leading hitters — FMT: Mayers 2-2; Brewington 2-3, 2 RBI; Leggette 2-2, HR, 4 RBI.
Records — South Robeson 5-4, 2-4; Fairmont 11-1, 7-0.
Fairmont 9, South Robeson 7
South Robeson3112000— 7 10 1
Fairmont 242 100x— 983
WP — Katelon Floyd (3-2). LP — Taylor Jacobs.
Leading hitters — FMT: Hicks 2-3, 2B, RBI; Lovin 2-4, 2B, RBI; Thompson 1-1, RBI. SR: H. Chavis 2-4; C. Chavis 2-4, 3B, 3 RBI; Jacobs 2-3, 2B; Hunt 1-2, 3B, RBI.
Records — South Robeson 4-7, 3-3; Fairmont 5-4, 3-4.