The Watauga High baseball team snapped its three-game winning streak by knocking off Rocky Mount Prep 18-0 in the opening-round of the Tarboro Easter Classic at Municipal Stadium in Tarboro, N.C.




The game was called in just 2 ½ inning after the coaches, Pete Hardee of WHS (8-11) and Robert Jewell of Rocky Mount Prep (0-10 and its first year of existence) , met with the home plate umpire and agreed to call the game. The Jaguars did not have a hit when the game was called.


Jesse Illich (2-1), making his first appearance on the mound in more than a month, got the win. He struck out eight and walked one. The Pioneers gave him more than his share of runs for support.


WHS sent 12 men to the plate against losing pitcher Percy Harper and scored seven times. Matt Lambert had a run-scoring double and Hunter Isaacs had a two-run triple in the inning. The Pioneers broke it open with 11 runs in the bottom of the second.


Seventeen men batted in the inning. WHS only made eight hits on the day, but the Pioneers took advantage of six walks, four errors, and Jaguars’ pitching also hit two batters.


“It was good to see some of our guys get the bat on the ball today,” said WHS coach Pete Hardee. “We’ve been struggling offensively. It was good to see Hunter and Steadman (Sauls) get some hits today. Hopefully, this will help their confidence.”


Sauls was 1-2 with a pair or runs-batted-in, Justin Greer was 2-2 with a walk, two RBI, a stolen base, and three runs scored., Lambert was 2-2 with two RBI, Jesse Illich was 2-3 with a pair of RBI, he scored twice and he also had a stolen base.


The Piioneers will now play Tarboro (8-7), the host school and the defending champion, tonight at 7 p.m., in a second-round game. Lambert (2-1) will get the starting nod.


“And with Jesse only throwing three innings today, that gives us some extra arms for the tournament,” Hardee said. “Not having Utah (Jones, who did not accompany the team because he’s in Oklahoma) left us with a short pitching staff. But Jesse did a great job attacking the hitters today.


“He didn’t waste any time on the mound. And when you pitch with that quick delivery, you keep your defense on its toes. I thought he pitched extremely well. He had a solid outing.”


Coverage of tonight’s game with Tarboro begins at 6:50 p.m. on AM 1450, WATA and


NOTES: If WHS wins tonight, the Pioneers will play Southampton (Va.) in the finals Friday night at 7 p.m.; if they lose, the Pioneers will play Lawrence Academy in the third-place game at 4:30 p.m.....The 18 runs scored by WHS on Thursday is the most in a game since 2007. The Pioneers scored 16 runs in a 16-0 win against Charlotte-Berry Academy in a first-round state playoff game. John Sharp made his varsity debut in that game for WHS.....Those 18 runs are also unofficially a school record.