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Comets diamonders down William Campbell 5-1

The senior and the freshman. It sounds like a good title for a story - a story like the one surrounding the Halifax County High School baseball team's 5-1 win over William Campbell High School Thursday night at Halifax County High School.

Behind the arm of senior starting pitcher Chase Wilkerson and the arm of freshman Andrew Abbott, who was brought up from the junior varsity team to play his first varsity game, the Comets set a few things on a better track.

Wilkerson fanned eight batters and yielded four walks and four hits in his five innings of work, with the Generals scoring their lone run of the game in the top of the second inning as the result of a Comets error.

Abbott was sent to the mound to throw the final two innings and had a near-perfect stint, striking out all six William Campbell High School batters he faced.

Wilkerson struggled early, allowing three walks and two hits while netting three strikeouts as the Comets trailed 1-0 after the first two innings. But, by the time he finished his five innings of work,  Wilkerson had fanned a total of eight batters and had yielded only two hits and one walk over the course of his last three innings on the mound.

When Abbott finished his stint, the pair had combined to toss 14 strikeouts in the contest.

"I felt good the entire game," Wilkerson said.

"I know I had a few too many walks, but I felt good the entire time. There were a couple of times when I gave up a walk when there were two runners on base. But, I was able to come up with key strikeouts and my defense helped me get through it. Even when I was in a jam I felt good that we would get out of it. I trusted myself to throw the strikes I needed to throw, and I trusted my defense to make the plays behind me."

Abbott was unflappable when he went to the mound to relieve Wilkerson.

"I played Junior American Legion baseball last summer for Coach Jody Nelson's team," Abbott said.

"I faced older kids and got used to seeing how they react to finesse and spot-up pitchers. That really got me going in the right direction.

"I found my groove after my first strikeout," added Abbott.

"I started spotting up my fastball. After that, it was all gravy."

Just as important as the pitching efforts of Wilkerson and Abbott, the Comets were able to come up with the right hits at the right time.

After going hitless through the first three innings, the Comets took a 2-1 lead with a pair of runs in the bottom of the fourth inning. Dustin Crews came up with a single with one out and moved to second base when Tristan Howerton followed with a hit. Kory Lennon reached base on a fielder's choice that erased pinch runner Josh Irby at second base, opening the door for Crews to score and tie the game at 1-1.

Will Harris followed with a hit and that, coupled with a William Campbell High School error on the play, allowed Lennon to score and put the Comets up 2-1.

The Comets added two more runs in the bottom of the fifth inning, one on a run-scoring hit by Andrew McCann and the other coming when McCann scored as Irby, who was running for Howerton after Howerton walked, got caught up in a rundown between first base and second base.

Leading 4-1, the Comets added an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth inning when Lennon scored on a William Campbell High School error on an attempted pickoff play. Lennon's run accounted for the Comets' four-run final margin.

"Tonight we were able to get the runs when we needed them," noted Comets Head Coach Kelvin Davis. 

"That's what you need in the game of baseball. In the past, we just haven't been doing that. It was a good thing we were in a situation to get that."

Both teams finished the game with four hits. Halifax County High School got a hit each from Crews, Howerton, Harris and McCann. William Campbell High School got two hits from Devin Anthony and a hit each from Brady Davis and Daron Townsend.

The Comets will be back in action Friday night when they travel to Rocky Mount to face Franklin County High School in a Piedmont District contest. Game time Friday is 5 p.m.