Yard Gnomes Baseball

“New Faces Guide Greenville To 7-6 Win Over Virginia Beach, Yard Gnomes Move To 3-0 In Exhibition Games”

June 30, 2024  |  3:02 AM
Written by: Corey Hodges (Play-By-Play/Communications, X: @The_CoreyHodges)


It might have been “Rock ‘n’ Roll Night” at Guy Smith Stadium on Saturday in Greenville as the Yard Gnomes hosted the Virginia Beach Valor but there was a dash of “New Kids on the Block” boy band flavor thrown into the evening mix as unheralded names for the home team proved to be the star attractions in a winning effort.

With Aden Howard (Dallas Baptist), Jack Herring (Rollins College) and Todd Kniebbe (Florida Atlantic) playing for the Coastal Plain League Select Team in Cary, NC on Saturday, and half of the remaining Greenville roster in Wilson to battle the Tobs on a split squad assignment, what was left at home for the Yard Gnomes to utilize in their matchup with the Virginia Beach Valor were some familiar names and a garden of fresh new bats.

As it turned out, the guys no one had ever heard of were (and are) pretty good ballplayers.

At the top of that list for Greenville was Neo Drew (4-5, four RBI, run) who blasted a two-run homer over the left field fence in the 2nd, an impressive feat considering the big fly came in his first at-bat of any kind this season for the Yard Gnomes.

With Virginia Beach leading 1-0 after the 1st, the Drew homer momentarily gave the home team a 2-1 advantage. The Valor would prove to be a stingy opponent early, however, as Virginia Beach retook the lead with a three-run 3rd and a run in the 4th.

Greenville found their stride in the 5th as Sean Darnell (UNC Charlotte, 2-5, RBI) picked up an RBI double that plated Adin Morehouse (Ranger College, 1-3, walk), the latter of whom led off the inning with a single. Darnell got rewarded for his hard work later in the same inning as Neo Drew delivered him with an RBI single and then it was umpteenth newbie Damon Hardy (North Carolina Wesleyan) who capped the three-run frame with a score off a Virginia Beach wild pitch.

A two-run 7th for the Yard Gnomes provided Greenville with a 7-5 cushion entering the 9th but a solo homerun by Virginia Beach’s Maison Nance (NC Wesleyan, 1-3, RBI, two walks) with two outs to go trimmed the good guy advantage to just 7-6.

Lefty Reece Tarini (Louisiana Tech), who would go on to earn the save for Greenville, struck out Virginia Beach’s Gavin Whitehurst (Central Methodist, 1-4, three RBI, walk) following the Nance homer as the Bulldog settled down nicely and eased the Yard Gnomes to their third exhibition victory of the season.

Leland Barrow (William Peace University) complimented both Darnell and Drew for victorious Greenville as the 2023 Greene Central graduate went 3-5 on the night while crossing home plate twice.

RHP Andres Camargo (East Georgia State), who seems to always find an extra gear on the exhibition game circuit, picked up the win for the Yard Gnomes on the mound behind a convincing relief line (3.0 IP, walk, four strikeouts). Camargo has now pitched eight exhibition innings on the season and holds a 14 to three K/BB ratio.

Righty Brady Wilson (Hampden-Sydney College) took the loss for the Valor as the recent First Colonial High School graduate pitched three innings which included five hits, two earned runs, two walks and four strikeouts.

Greenville will put a bow on their three-game weekend homestand on Sunday as the Morehead City Marlins (15-13) visit the Yard Gnomes (7-21) for a 5:05 PM first pitch on “Base Y’all Night” at Guy Smith Stadium. The same two teams met earlier this week on Tuesday (June 25th) at Big Rock Stadium in Morehead City, NC with Greenville leaving the victor following six Marlin errors. Thursday’s return trip to the Crystal Coast for the Greenville was cancelled due to rain.

Sunday’s meeting will be the seventh of a scheduled 11 (down from 12 following the rainout) this summer between two of the CPL’s Eastern Division teams.

NOTES: Total game time was two hours and thirty-three minutes.