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In an opening game of the Class 3-A state baseball playoffs Saturday, the West Brunswick Trojans scored a run in the bottom of the seventh inning to beat the Wilson Hunt Warriors 2-1.
The victory advanced West to a second round game Tuesday against D.H. Conley (See more on the front page.) If West won Tuesday, it plays a third-round game Friday at home.
With the score tied 1-1 in the bottom of the seventh, Justin Cook led off and lined a shot to the Wilson second baseman for the first out. It was an indication either the Trojan bats were getting quicker or the pitcher was losing some steam. Ryan Hill singled and Pat Kamfolt walked.
The Warriors made a pitching change, and with two outs, Trojan coach Mike Alderson called for a double steal. The runners were safe, as the Warriors were caught off guard. The runners got a great lead and were on second and third before the catcher had the ball. It was a fantastic call by Alderson, and one of two reasons West scored in the seventh. The other reason was at bat in the form of Josh Powell, the cleanup hitter.
Powell, trying to pull the ball, swung and missed. The bat went flying out of his hand. He retrieved it and walked back toward home plate.
“I’m thinking it is about time we get this run across,” Powell said. “When I was at bat, my heart was beating—and beating hard. When the bat went flying, I said to the umpire, ‘All right, that should take the pressure off.’ All I wanted to do was get a hit.”
Powell did just that, as he singled to right field for the winning run and the playoff victory.
“That was a great high school baseball game,” Alderson said. “They are a good team. We are a good team. It was a great pitching duel. Both pitchers did great. It was just one of those things, where we came through with the hit, in the bottom of the seventh. Just a great win.”
Reliever Jay Gause got the win, pitching in a tense seventh inning. Wilson’s first batter singled and moved to second on a bunt. The next batter struck out, and the following batter walked. A wild pitch moved the runners to second and third with two outs. Gause hit the next batter, loading the bases. A force out at second ended the inning.
Wilson Hunt scored its only run in the first against starter Brock Holmes. The second batter of the game hit a double to left center and went to third on a wild pitch. A sacrifice fly to deep center to Ryan Hill drove in the run.
West tied the score in the bottom of the inning against Zack Lee. Hill led off and lashed a double to left center. Pat Kamfolt moved Hill to third with a flyout to right field. Wally Kamfolt singled and Hill crossed the plate, tying the score 1-1.
Powell singled, and Hunter Allen came in as a courtesy runner. Logan Tripp came to bat with two outs and runners on first and second. Tripp hit a low fastball to deep center, but the wind, blowing in, kept the ball in the park. The ball was caught near the outfield fence. Were it not for the wind, the ball would have cleared the fence and the highway.
West’s Blain Turner had a single in the second and Wally Kamfolt had a single in the third, but neither led to runs. In the bottom of the fifth, Hill singled and Pat Kamfolt had an infield hit, but both runners were stranded.
Wilson got a runner on base in the sixth on an infield error, and he went to second on an sacrifice bunt. Powell picked off the runner at second, and Brock Holmes struck out the next batter, ending the inning.
Holmes pitched six innings, giving up five hits and one run. He walked one and struck out four.
“We had a great season,” Powell said. “We have had our ups and downs. The main thing we wanted to do was (advance in) the playoffs, play hard and stay in the game. That is what we did tonight. We swung the bats good enough—we had 11 hits overall—but did not score as many runs as we would have liked. We are really playing hard and know what we have to do.”
The threat of rain postponed on Friday the opening playoff game for the Trojans, who compiled a record of 17-5, good enough for first place and the first seed of the Mideastern Conference. The Warriors, now 16-6, finished third in the tough Western Carolina Conference.
“The first one is always good,” Alderson said. “Nothing like cutting it close. It reminds me of the ’04 (state championship) team, where in both the first and second games we had 1-0 victories.”