Homecoming goes sour for Eastern Randolph baseball coach

Eastern Randolph team members gather after Wednesday night’s loss at Southern Alamance.

MT. HERMON – Brent Haynes took his Eastern Randolph baseball team to face his alma mater Wednesday night, but he was watching from a distance for the final few innings.

So the outcome didn’t go as preferred for the Wildcats, who had late-game struggles in a 17-11 road loss to Southern Alamance.

A controversial play in the bottom of the fourth inning stirred emotions after what already was shaping up as a high-scoring game. Haynes, a first-year coach, was dismissed by the umpires as part of the fallout.

Then Southern Alamance’s nine-run sixth inning turned out to be the big blow.

“It’s kind of embarrassing,” Haynes said of the situation in general, calling out the two-man umpiring crew. “It’s tough to come back here and get run.”

Eastern Randolph appeared to escape the bottom of the fourth inning when Southern Alamance’s Nathan Teague was called out on an attempted steal of third base. The umpires conferred and changed the call, so the Wildcats had to go back onto the field following a prolonged argument.

Tensions grew when Southern Alamance’s Braxton Cain extended the inning with a two-run single to trim Eastern Randolph’s lead to 9-8.

“There’s no way a home plate umpire can overturn a stolen base,” Haynes said.

Before the top of the fifth, Eastern Randolph assistant coach Logan Beasley was ejected. Per high school rules, that led to the disqualification of Haynes as well.

“I hate that it went down like that,” said Southern Alamance coach Jason Smith, who was Haynes’ high school coach.

The game already had various twists and turns.

Starting pitcher Lucas Smith of Eastern Randolph hit a two-run home run in the second inning.

The Wildcats trailed 6-2 before rallying with two outs in the third. Alex Kivett provided a two-run single on a full-count pitch before a pair of wild pitches allowed Eastern Randolph to tie the score.

Pierce Leonard’s three-run double with two outs in the fourth put the Wildcats on top 9-6.

Later, Leonard was hit by a pitch to force in a run in the sixth for a 10-8 lead before Southern Alamance’s big uprising.

Haynes, who was a member of Southern Alamance’s 2005 state championship team, had been an assistant coach with the Patriots. Last summer, he left to take the Eastern Randolph job.

“I’m glad to be in Randolph County with different umpires,” Haynes said.

Eastern Randolph (1-8) has lost five games by three runs or less.

“We’re the best 1-8 team in the state,” Haynes said. “We should be sitting in a lot different situation than we are. … We’re right there. It hasn’t completely gotten there yet.”

Southern Alamance’s four pitchers issued a combined 13 walks. The Patriots improved to 5-4.

By Randolph Record