The 2016 North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) 3A East Regional has come down to a winner-take-all matchup after the No. 19 Corinth Holders upended No. 17 Topsail 2-1 in Wendell on Friday night to even the best-of-three series at one game apiece.
“We knew after the game the other night they were going to come out fighting,” said Topsail Coach Chris Blake. “We have to put this behind us. This team has been resilient all season. We’ve faced a lot of adversity and have come back and fought when a lot of people counted us out.”
With a 1-0 advantage after Colby Emmertz smacked an RBI single to plate Chase Riker in the top of the second, Corinth Holders went to their bullpen and used a stellar effort from Connor Bass to hold the Pirates until the home team rallied in the fourth.
Bass tossed three innings of shutout baseball, while Josh Jarman picked up a huge strikeout for the final out in the sixth to leave a pair of Topsail runners stranded in scoring position. Jarman delivered a perfect seventh inning to earn the save and preserve the victory.
Junior Payton Phelps navigated his way through three full innings as the Pirates’ starting pitcher and used a little help from his friends in the field, particularly freshman shortstop Shane Nolan. Nolan made a beautiful bare-handed play on a chopper up the middle to get out of the third, but Corinth Holders grabbed a lead it would not relinquish in the fourth, plating two unearned runs on two hits and two errors
A throwing error by Phelps on a routine tapper back to the mound set the fuse, while Carson Sakowski and Alex Seaton smacked back-to-back run scoring doubles later in the frame to seize control of the ball game.
“It’s just kind of the way the game rolls sometime,” Blake added. “We had a couple of throws and some errors that did cost us big. We’ve got to be able to overcome that and swing it like we can and those kinds of things don’t mean a whole lot.”
After the double by Sakowski, the Corinth Holders’ catcher was dead to rights in trying to advance to third on a pitch in the dirt, but what would have been the final out of the inning turned into the game winner when contact on the play forced the ball out of Sam Hall’s glove. Seaton then belted the clutch run scoring extra base hit in the next at-bat to take a 2-1 edge.
Emmertz and Garrett Myrka each went 2-for-3 to pace the Topsail lineup. Riker, Bryce Cota and Josh Madole added one base knock each.
Eli Dalton reached base three times as the Corinth Holders lead-off hitter and Sakowski collected a multi-hit game. The two teams combined to leave 15 runners on base.
The Pirates dropped to 20-10 overall. Corinth Holders moved to 19-8 heading into game three on Saturday.
The winner clinches a spot in next week’s NCHSAA 3A Championship series. First pitch is set for 11 a.m. in Hampstead due to the impending weather expected along the coast this Memorial Day weekend,.
3A baseball: Game 1: Topsail 7, Corinth Holders 0; Game 2: Corinth Holders 2, Topsail 1; Game 3: 11a.m. at Topsail on Saturday, May 28
Box score R H E
Topsail 010 000 0 1 7 4
Corinth Holders 000 200 X 2 7 0
WP: Connor Bass LP: William St. Ledger Save: Josh Jarman