CLAYTON — Clayton might have been an underdog in the first round of the N.C. 4A baseball tournament Thursday night.
At least the MaxPreps rankings said so, with visiting Wilmington Laney ranked No. 25 in the state and the Comets No. 95.
But the Comets didnt back down.
In a pitchers duel worthy of a game later in the bracket, Clayton got to Laney ace Pete Wildeboer for the only two runs it would need in the first inning, holding on for a 2-1 victory.
The Comets (16-8), who carry the No. 2 seed from the Greater Neuse River 4A, advanced to a second-round game against the winner of the first-round matchup Friday between Wilmington Hoggard (17-3) and Fayetteville Pine Forest. Laney, which had the No. 3 seed from the Mideastern 4A, finished 14-9.
They gave us a couple of opportunities to score early and we took advantage of them, Clayton coach Stacey Houser said. We had some more times where we threatened and never got that key hit.
But Sam (May) threw one heck of a game. Thats about as well as hes pitched this season. And we had some big defensive plays behind him and did well enough to win.
Laney coach Aaron Livengood said Clayton was just a bit better in the clutch at the plate.
We just ran into a club that had timely hitting and was a better ball club than we were tonight, Livengood said.
May (5-4), a junior left-hander, had his second complete game of the season, striking out three against three walks. He allowed an earned run and six singles.
I felt good, May said. My arm stayed strong and I went longer than I expected to.
Wildeboer, who will play for Methodist next season, matched the complete game and allowed two runs one earned on five hits with two strikeouts and two walks.
Clayton sophomore Cole Hinnant had three hits.
The biggest one came in the first inning. Marshall Creech was hit by a pitch with one out, followed by a single from Michael Haddix and then Brett Clarks fielders choice to second.
Hinnant followed with an RBI single up the middle, then Clark came home as Corey Poole reached on an error.
Laneys run came in the fifth, during which the Buccaneers got half of their hits. With one out, Nick Hufham singled to left before Wildeboer reached on a fielders choice to third. Ty Shanahan had a single and Ryan Perkins an RBI single.
Clayton has been playing in memory of teammate Hogan Teem, who collapsed and died during a conditioning session in December. Teems father, David, threw out the ceremonial first pitch.