HiToms hold off Forest City

Jul. 19, 2013 @ 11:53 PM

The HiToms continue to find ways to grind out tough wins and keep doing what they need to do to keep their playoff hopes alive.

They scored four runs in the first inning — keyed by a Jared Allen home run — and got seven strong innings from pitcher Dylan Stoops in holding off Forest City 4-2 on Friday night at Finch Field after two disappointing losses.

“The good thing and bad thing, I guess, about this team is that it has yet to strike hot,” HiToms manager Zach Brown said. “Over the course of a full summer, that’s going to happen.

“This could be the first time nobody does,” he said with a laugh. “It’d be rare, but I have a feeling this offense is going to get hot. And when it does, we’ll be a very good offensive team. Pitching-wise, I feel like we’ll be fine.”

Allen, after Evan Stephens stole third and scored on a passed ball earlier in the inning, blasted a three-run home run — his fourth of the season — over the wall in left-center field to give the HiToms (18-22 overall, 5-7 second half) an early 4-0 lead.

Stoops (3-1) took control from there. He struck out seven and walked just one while scattering seven hits in seven innings. His lone jam came in the sixth, with two on and two out. But Stoops got a strikeout to end the inning.

“I thought Stoops did what Stoops does,” Brown said. “He kept them off-balance with offspeed, he controls the zone, and he threw well. He picked two guys off as well, which helped — his move’s kind of dirty. But he threw well.”

Forest City (12-23, 2-6) did rally in the ninth, scoring twice. It put two on with one out, before Collin Forgey and Blake Butler hit two-out bouncers through the left side to score runs and put the tying run on first. But Bennett Hixson forced a fly-out to right for the save.

Allen, Robbie Streett, Kyle Martin, Dylan Spiess and Andrew Cox each had two hits for the HiToms, who had won three of four before tough losses against Asheboro and Martinsville and are on the bubble for the Coastal Plain League playoffs.

Lucas Cash (0-4) took the loss for the Owls, who’ve lost five straight and struggled mightily with wild pitches and passed balls. Ty Barkell had three hits to lead Forest City offensively while Derrick Pitts, Butler and Forgey each had two.

The HiToms play again Saturday at Asheboro before hosting Kernersville in an out-of-league contest Sunday.