FUQUAY-VARINA — - The Fuquay-Varina baseball team pounded out 10 hits en route to a 10-0 win over Middle Creek on Wednesday, giving the Bengals at least a share of the Tri-9 Conference title.
Bengal senior Garrett Suggs went 2-for-3, scoring twice and driving in two runs, while Brett Daniels threw a one-hitter for Fuquay. The Bengals (16-3, 12-1) scored seven runs in the bottom of the fourth inning to seize control of the game.
“Brett’s our ace in the hole,” said F-V head coach Milton Senter. “We didn’t hit early but we did late. We need to continue to move forward and get ready for the playoffs.”
Fuquay plays Holly Springs on Friday, the lone Tri-9 team to defeat the Bengals this year. Both Fuquay and Middle Creek (11-10, 8-5) have three conference games left before the postseason starts.
Out of bounds: Prior to the game, Senter and assistant coach Tom Hayes presented Middle Creek head coach Jeremy Thompson a baseball with a warm-hearted message inscribed. Thompson is stepping down after the season as the Mustangs coach to assume the athletics director position at Middle Creek.
“Coach Senter and Hayes are such class people,” said Thompson. “When I first got here coaching they would give me sound advice. It’s always competitive with us on the field, but they’re great guys and a terrific reflection on their program.”
Putting up numbers: Suggs notched his 98th run scored on Tuesday against Athens Drive, breaking the school’s career runs record. On Wednesday, Suggs reached 100 for his Bengal career.
“It was really special to get to 100 against Middle Creek,” said Suggs, who is teammates with Mustang players Keenan Herring and Jake Benedict when they play on a travelling team. “Our team wants to win and will do whatever it takes.”
What worked: The Fuquay bats were on fire, with seven Bengals posting a base hit. In addition to Suggs, Nick Yarborough also had two hits. Daniels, a junior, struck out nine Mustangs in just five innings. Middle Creek freshman Sammy Chapman was the lone batter to notch a hit against Daniels.
Highlight reel: Perry Gray blasted a deep double to centerfield which scored Yarborough and Nick Stuart in the fourth.
Middle Creek second baseman Alex Williams robbed Bengal D.J. Burt of a base hit in the third. Williams leaped up and snagged the hard hit ball.
Looking forward: Suggs has been a four-year starter who has watched conference foes Holly Springs and Middle Creek capture state championships the past two seasons. Suggs would love to cap his Bengal career with a deep playoff run, hopefully putting Fuquay in a position to win their first state title since 2002.
Thompson knows the next three games will be critical for the Mustangs, who won the title last year despite finishing second in the conference and also losing a game to Fuquay by 10 runs. Middle Creek defeated the Bengals in the playoffs though on the way to their first state championship.
“You hate to lose a game by 10, but I’ll take it if we end up with the same result as last year,” said Thompson.