AIKEN – A combined nine strikeouts through two innings set the tone for an early duel.
A fist pump and forceful hand clap signaled the completion of two gems.
Nick Clary and Connor O’Rear dueled over seven innings to total 25 strikeouts. Clary received the upper hand with two key runs as North Augusta beat South Aiken 2-0 Tuesday night.
“It was a heck of a ballgame,” North Augusta coach Matt Branon said. “You play a game like this, it’s a shame somebody has to lose. You see two guys out there grinding it out on the mound like they did. Fortunately for us, we came out on top.”
Clary, a senior Lander commit, kept South Aiken off-balance through a complete-game shutout, scattering four singles and a walk around nine strikeouts to push North Augusta into a tie with the Thoroughbreds at 1-1 in Region 4-AAAA.
O’Rear, a senior Clemson commit, answered his 13-strikeout outing against Aiken last week by punching out 16 Yellow Jackets in seven innings. He gave up two runs – one earned – on three hits and one walk.
The two right-handers have played on the same fields for much of their lives. Clary knew runs would be at a premium against O’Rear, and he buckled down in a big region matchup.
North Augusta took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when D.J. Sullivan singled, advanced to second on a wild pitch, stole third and scored on a throwing error by the catcher.
The Yellow Jackets took the one-run lead into the fourth when they added a crucial insurance run on a Mitch Barefield solo home run. Clary responded to the extra run by retiring nine in a row between the fourth and sixth, and he stranded a South Aiken runner in the seventh to end the game.
Reach David Lee at (706) 823-3216 or firstname.lastname@example.org.