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Atkins upends Yellow Jackets

Lexington catcher Chaz Hill tags out Atkins runner Kenneth Rocker as Rocker flips over him at home plate during their baseball game Thursday at Holt-Moffitt Field. (Photo by Donnie Roberts/The Dispatch)

Lexington’s young baseball team had already doubled its win total of one from last year and the Yellow Jackets were looking to triple it on a blustery Thursday afternoon at Holt-Moffitt Field.

But the Atkins Camels, who were perhaps even hungrier for a win, had other ideas.

Michael Williams pitched a four-hitter and the Camels scored five two-out runs in the second inning en route to an 8-0 victory over Lexington.

It was the first win for Atkins (1-1) in over a year. Lexington (2-3) had beaten Atkins 11-1 last week in Winston-Salem, which made the loss especially disappointing for Lexington coach Rob Linder, who is in his first year running the program after serving for two years as an assistant coach under former coach Sam Mackey.

“Our kids haven’t experienced a whole lot of success other than the two wins we’ve had this year. We beat these guys and picked up another win against Carver. I think we were probably a little overconfident. Last week we beat these guys 11-1.”

Williams saw to it that the outcome was different this time.

A left-hander, Williams struck out 10 and walked three and faced only one serious threat as the Camels tasted some rare success themselves.

“This is the first win for us in a year,” said Atkins coach Chris Booth. “We didn’t win a game last year and we won one game in 2011. This is a big win for us, especially since Lexington beat us last Friday and we quit. We got a good effort today.”

Lexington left-hander Jordan Holden had thrown a two-hitter with 10 strikeouts in last Friday’s win at Atkins but there was to be no repeat of that at Holt-Moffitt on Thursday.

Holden yielded a run-scoring single to Nigel McEachern in the first inning and then struggled to find the strike zone in the second. The inning was looking harmless when the Camels had runners on first and second with two out. But Holden walked Trajan Doty and Williams to force in a run. Then he plunked Deion Wilson in the helmet to force in another run and Kenneth Rocker pounded a two-run single. McEachern collected his second RBI single to make it 6-0. Rocker also tried to score on the play but was gunned down by left fielder D.J. Pittman to end the inning.

Logan Wicks came on in relief in the third and turned in a solid performance. A right-hander, Wicks tossed four scoreless innings before being nicked for two runs in the seventh, one of them unearned. Wicks allowed three hits while striking out six and walking two.

“He’s our workhorse,” Linder said. “I probably should have got the other guy a little earlier.”

Lexington’s best chance to score came in the bottom of the fourth when walks to Jalain Charles and D.J. Boger sandwiched around a walk to catcher Chaz Hill loaded the bases with one out. But Williams got Ray Cuanas on a shallow fly to center and struck out Holden.

“We’ve just got to get better,” Linder said. “We’ve got to work hard and get our kids committed to coming to practice every day and working on fundamentals. Jalain Charles played a whole season of varsity baseball last year. The rest of these kids have two or three games of varsity experience.”

Lexington opens Central Carolina Conference play on Tuesday at East Davidson.

Mike Duprez can be reached at 249-3981, ext. 218 or