Close games prove costly for ZooKeepers

Zach Evans takes a swing during a recent game for the Asheboro ZooKeepers. (P.J. Ward-Brown / Randolph Record)

ASHEBORO – The Asheboro ZooKeepers were involved in a bunch of close games heading into the Coastal Plain League’s all-star break.

Not all of those outcomes worked out well for the ZooKeepers.

So when play resumed this week, the ZooKeepers were in sixth place in the eight-team West Division with a 5-6 second-half record in the split season.

The ZooKeepers ended last week with a pair of games with the High Point-Thomasville HiToms.

Asheboro outfielder Owen Blackledge was dubbed the top hitter in the CPL for Saturday’s games when he went 3-for-5 with a home run and a double and drove in two runs as ZooKeepers topped the HiToms 8-7 at Finch Field in Thomasville. That result snapped Asheboro’s four-game losing streak.

Zach Evans, who like Blackledge plays for Lenoir-Rhyne, hit a solo home run.

Pitcher Nic Schutte appeared in his final game for the ZooKeepers and logged four innings and allowed two runs. Richie Cimpric and Zach Taylor worked out of the bullpen before Danny Thompson notched the save with five strikeouts.

A night earlier, the HiToms won 8-6 at McCrary Park.

Last Thursday night, the Florence City Flamingos edged the visiting ZooKeepers 8-7 despite four hits from Evans and three hits from Dylan Driver.

The Boone Bigfoots nipped the ZooKeepers 4-3 last Wednesday night at McCrary Park. Blackledge and Evans both produced three hits and Sal Laimo homered for Asheboro.

Overall, four of the ZooKeepers’ final five games prior to the break were one-run results, with the other decided by two runs.

Asheboro’s Chase Heath drove in 11 runs across his past nine games.

After a home game Thursday night against the HiToms, the ZooKeepers play their next three CPL games on the road until a July 18 visit from the Martinsville Mustangs. Aside from those CPL games comes Saturday night’s non-league home matchup with the Uwharrie Wampus Cats of the Southern Collegiate Baseball League.

By Randolph Record