Topsail’s run as the defending 3A state champions came to a close in Hampstead on Tuesday night as the No. 3 baseball team suffered a 3-2 season-ending setback to No. 6 C.B. Aycock in the third round of the playoffs.
The Pirates ended the year 25-3 overall, while the Golden Falcons extended their win streak to 11 straight games to improve to 20-4 on the season.
“It’s been a great ride and obviously we’d still love to be playing baseball right now,” said Topsail Coach Granville Gehris. “Our guys are going to be successful in whatever they do in life because they work hard every day, they’re competitive, get after it every day and that’s what we tried to emphasize during our talk after the game.
“It’s not going to always work out the way you want it. Life is going to knock you down a lot more than it’s going to keep you up. It’s your job to stand back up as a man and rally yourself.”
After dropping a one-run contest to Topsail in the tournament last season, C.B. Aycock used a performance by Appalachian State commit Bobby Hampton, who allowed two runs–one earned–in a complete game victory. The lefty surrendered just three hits and struck out seven to move to 9-2 on the mound.
Hank Smitherman picked up a two-out, two-run double to give the Golden Falcons a 2-0 lead and Chase Matthews smacked a line drive RBI single in the sixth to break a tie ballgame to bring home the game-winner.
“Topsail has a great program,” said C.B Aycock Coach Charles Davis. “They’re the defending state champions and Granville [Gehris] does a great job with those guys and we’re very fortunate to come away with the win.
“Bobby’s been that way all year. He’s going to Appalachian State, and when the game’s on the line he stepped up. He got stronger as the game went on and that’s what we’ve come to expect from him.”
With the Pirates trailing by two in the bottom of the third, Topsail rallied to tie things at two after Chase Riker drew a leadoff walk to start the frame. Danny Wilson followed with a single to left on the first pitch of the at-bat and Jake Madole singled home Riker with a line drive up the middle to close the deficit. As Wilson advanced to second on the base hit, an error with two outs in the inning allowed the senior to score.
A scary moment during the evenly played contest came in the top of the fifth when Smitherman collided with first baseman Josh Madole as Golden Falcons’ shortstop left the game after a 25-minute delay.
“Hank going down hurt us, but the guys rallied around that and our kids stayed focus the whole time,” said Davis.
Smitherman was attended to by paramedics because of the injury and did not return after delivering a key base hit to put C.B. Aycock on the board.
Hampton reached second to lead off the sixth on a throwing miscue after hitting a grounder to third and Charlie Robertson executed a sacrifice bunt to move the runner 90 feet. After a safety squeeze was defended by the Pirates for the second out of the inning, Matthews came up clutch with a single up the box to make it 3-2.
“Bobby Hampton did a good job tonight,” said Gehris. “He’s a college pitcher and for our guys going to play at the next level they got a little taste of what it’s going to be like. He pitched to location, used multiple pitches and got ahead of hitter. I felt like our guys did a pretty good job keeping us in the game and we just came up a little short on a couple plays defensively. But that’s baseball. The longer you’re in baseball you know it’s a very cruel game.”
Following the two-run rally for Topsail, Hampton allowed just one more base runner through the final four innings of work on a base on balls, but Riker was eventually retired on an unassisted double play.
The Pirates say goodbye to nine seniors (Wilson, Madole, Clark Cota, Chase Thompson, Trader Flora, Isaac Beach, Sam Luchansky, Andrew Bishop, Austin Baird), six of whom will go on to play baseball next year at the college level.
Box score R H E
Aycock 002 001 0 3 7 1
Topsail 002 000 0 2 3 1