With the bases loaded and one out in the top of the seventh, tournament MVP Chase Lane fought off a quality pitch on the inner half of the plate for a double down the right field line to score three in a 4-3 comeback win to clinch the 10th Annual Ashley High School Spring Break Tournament Championship.
Lane finished the three-day event 4-for-9 at the plate with five RBIs, while Will Sprinkle earned the victory in two scoreless innings of relief on Thursday.
“Both of our losses this year have come in the last inning so it was good to be able to turn around and get one in the final at-bat,” said Regan Coach Gary Nail. “We’re finding out that there’s no quit in this team. Even though we were down by two, we were still up in the dugout and there was positive talk.
“Tonight was like a state playoff game as far as the intensity, good pitching and the atmosphere is why we wanted to come to Wilmington because we knew we’d be facing some good competition.”
The Raiders took an early lead after Lane hit an RBI single up the middle to score A.J. Gallo, who was hit by pitch to leadoff the game and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Sprinkle.
New Hanover left runners stranded in scoring position in the second, but Trey Croom put the Wildcats in front 2-1 when the senior drilled a 2-1 fast ball over the wall in left-center with two outs in the third.
Ward Coleman singled to keep the inning alive, moved to second on a fielding error in left and pinch runner Nick Mustacio advanced to third on a wild-pitch before the round tripper.
“A good high school baseball game,” said New Hanover Coach Richard Foy. “Both teams pitched well. Both teams made some plays. We got ourselves in a bit of jam there in the last inning and we made the pitch we were trying to make and to the kid’s credit he fought it off and got it just inside the bag at first.”
The Wildcats scored all of their runs with two outs as Croom gave New Hanover a little breathing room in the bottom of the fifth with a two-out double after Coleman reached base on an infield single. Mustacio scored from first on the extra base hit.
Croom went 2-for-3 with a home run, double and three RBIs, while Coleman struck out nine in 6.1 innings, allowing four runs on nine hits. The senior also went 2-for-3 at the plate.
With Reagan down 3-1in the sixth, the Raiders had an opportunity to get the runs back when Ryan Davis and Eli Kennedy hit back-to-back singles with one out, but Coleman dug deep to get a pop out at first and ground ball to second to work his way out of the inning.
“We have three losses this year and all three came in the last inning,” said Foy. The Whiteville game was eerily similar–winning run on third and one out and a ground ball just inside the bag at first in the bottom of the seventh.”
New Hanover hit two balls on the nose in the seventh, but the line drives were driven directly at the Reagan shortstop and second baseman to secure the victory in a dramatic finish to the tournament.
The Wildcats saw its seven game win streak come to a close as the Wildcats fell to 11-3 overall.
“Another thing I told the guys after the game was at the end of the day as bad as you feel right now it is the spring break tournament and the bigger fish that we’re trying to fry are those conference games next week,” said Foy. “Winning is a whole lot more fun than losing and we were collectively trying to our rear end off to win that game. We needed a break, needed to run the bases a little bit better earlier in the game and we’ll give them a day off and tee it up Tuesday against Laney.”
Box score R H E
Reagan 100 000 3 4 9 4
NHHS 002 010 0 3 6 0
WP: Will Sprinkle LP: Ward Coleman