ASHEVILLE — Multiple Roberson batters reached base in each of the first four innings of Tuesday's third-round playoff baseball game against Marvin Ridge, yet entering the fifth, the Rams found themselves without the lead.
In the fifth, Reno Jeter changed all of that.
The sophomore cleanup hitter lasered a go-ahead two-run homer over the left-center field fence, flexing and yelling toward the sky as he stepped on home plate.
Jeter's blast reignited a Roberson offense that's been on fire since the final game of the regular season, and the No. 10 Rams used a five-run sixth inning to break open an 11-5 win over No. 15 Marvin Ridge and advance to Friday's fourth round of the NCHSAA Class 4A West bracket.
"We didn't come through early on with some big hits there, but we knew we grinded it out," Roberson coach Eric Filipek said. "This lineup right now, top-to-bottom is a tough out. It's going to wear on pitchers."
After a 2-1 loss to Asheville in the penultimate game of the regular season, the Rams' offense has kicked into gear, scoring double-digit runs in each of the four games since.
"Destroy every team we play, really," Jeter said of the team's mindset since the disappointment against the Cougars. "Kill 'em in the field, and just try to be better than everybody."
Early against Marvin Ridge (18-10), though, Roberson (21-6) couldn't cash in on its opportunities. Center fielder J.T. Gordon led off the first with a single and came around to score, but the Rams left a runner in scoring position in the second and third inning, and a player thrown out at the plate preserved a 3-2 Marvin Ridge lead in the fourth.
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But shortstop Nick Parham worked a one-out in the fifth, and Jeter jumped on a 2-0 fastball to bring him in with a bang and take a 4-3 advantage.
"He's clutch," Filipek said. "He's scary to pitch to for sure. Cold, he's got ice in his veins. He's stepped up big for us, and hopefully he continues to do that."
Filipek noted that the quality of the batters deeper in the lineup prevent opponents from pitching around the Jeter. Toward the end of Tuesday's game, the Rams' relentlessness and early-count aggression broke the Mavericks.
Two errors and a walk brought home another pair of two-out runs in the fifth and, after Marvin Ridge cut the lead to 6-5 in the sixth, the Rams answered in the bottom half of the frame.
Roberson sent 11 to the plate, had three hits, two hit-by-pitches and a walk in the six-run outburst. The rally gave Roberson an 11-5 lead and ensured every starter reached base at least once, securing another home game against No. 11 Myers Park (22-4) in Friday's fourth round.
"We've been rolling," said Parham, who reached base four times. "The whole team is buying into the approach right now. Early in the count, fastballs, just staying on top of it. It's been working."
M.R. 020 102 0 — 5 6 7
T.C. 100 145 x — 11 8 1
Roberson top performers
Parham - 1-2, BB, HBP, 2 R, RBI, SB
Jeter - 1-3, HBP, HR, R, 3 RBI
Caden Davidson - 2-4, R, 2 RBI
Micah Simpson - 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K
Zeb Swangim (W) - 2 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 2 ER, BB, 2 K, HBP
Parham (SV) - 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K, SV
This article originally appeared on Asheville Citizen Times: Roberson baseball beats Marvin Ridge in NCHSAA playoffs 3rd round