A seventh-inning Stringer rally was in the works.
Mize, who led 10-3 at the start of the half inning, saw its lead drop by four runs. The first six batters Stringer sent to the plate in the bottom of the seventh reached base. With the bases loaded and no outs, Mize needed a fix.
Zack Griffith provided that fix. Coming in as relief for Clayton Cook – who started the inning on the mound – Griffith struck out three of the six Stringer batters he faced Friday night to earn his first save of the season.
Mize improves to 2-1 on the season with the 10-7 win over Stringer.
“It is a huge win for us,” said Mize head baseball coach Adam Dyess. “We started the season slow. Our first game of the year was against a big in county rival Raleigh, and we didn’t play particularly clean. We just got outplayed.
“We had Bay Springs last week, and we played better. Tonight we were able to build on that. For that reason, it was a big night for us.”
Mize rattled Stringer’s starting pitcher Andrew Nix early. On the game’s second pitch, leadoff batter Clay Cook roped a double off the “Maroon Monster” wall in left field. Mize capitalized on Nix’s rough start, scoring three runs on two hits as Nix hit three batters at the plate. Cook led Mize as the plate with three hits
Junior Tyler Temple added to the lead with a two-run blast over the left field wall in the second inning.
“Getting early runs was big,” said Dyess. “On the way to the ball park, we talked about that with our guys. That was our game plan. We know we can’t control the uncontrollable, but the idea was to start hot. Now we don’t know if that will rattle the pitcher or not, but we were fortunate in that aspect. We were able to build on it, and that was a big deal for us.”
After a Stringer run in the bottom of the fourth, Mize scored its sixth run of the night as Cook crossed home plate on a passed ball by Stringer relief pitcher Jackson Parker. Cook reached base on a hard ground ball that slipped through the infield earlier in the frame.
Stringer hung around midway through the contest with solo runs in the fourth, fifth and sixth inning. Two of Stringer’s three runs came as a result of Mize errors in the field.
“We’ve gotten a little better with each game, but we’re still not at a pristine level,” Dyess said. “We do our best to clean up what we do. We try to play our game well. No matter who the opponent, we want to play clean and we’re not there yet.”
Four insurance runs in the top of the seventh proved crucial. An RBI single by John Sullivan, a two-run single down the right-field line by James Riley and a sac fly by Eli Cross gave Mize a 10-3 lead heading into the final frame.
Stringer scored four runs in the bottom of the seventh before Griffith shut the Red Devils down with three strikeouts.
Starting pitcher John Riley earned the win on the mound. Riley went 5.1 innings in his first start for Mize. Riley allowed two earned runs on four hits and struck out nine Stringer batters in 22 faced.
“He was one pitch shy of 80, and the game plan was to come get him heck or high water,” Dyess said. “Fortunately we had the lead. He was starting to trier, and you could tell it was his first outing. About over the 70-pitch threshold, I noticed he was starting to leave his breaking balls up, and that is dangerous for us. But until the sixth, in all batters faced, he either got ahead in the count or evened the count on the second pitch. And that is big for us. We’re not a team with a great deal of velocity, but we try to command the first three pitches and earn a favorable count. Riley did a good job of that.”
Mize plays Mount Olive on Thursday.