South Johnston ends season as 3A East baseball runner-up

nmccaskill@newsobserver.comMay 30, 2014 

— South Johnston’s Colby Jones hit Jake Maddle with a pitch at the top of the sixth inning. Minutes later the Topsail shortstop would quickly return the favor, instead hitting the Trojans where it hurt: the scoreboard.

After five innings of solid pitching and strong fielding from both teams, momentum shifted to the visiting Pirates. Maddle capitalized on the free walk to first base before a passed ball led him to second, a wild pitch to third and a sacrifice bunt brought him home for the game’s first score.

That run served as a catalyst for Topsail, which would score an additional two runs at the top of the seventh to claim the 3A Eastern Regional Championship, 3-1, in the best-of-three series.

South Johnston answered as a Joey Matthews RBI single brought Brett Clifton home to tie the game at 1 at the bottom of the sixth with two outs. But that’s as close as the Trojans would get before giving up two unanswered runs in the final inning.

It was a “great atmosphere for high school baseball,” South Johnston coach Keith Durham said. “You can’t ask for anything else.”

Despite South Johnston finishing as the 3A Eastern Region runner-up, Durham said the ballgame was “everything you could want in a regional championship game.”

Both coaches lauded the opposing team’s pitching. Topsail pitcher Trent Hansley threw 12 strikeouts in a complete game while Jones struck out three in 5 1/3 innings and only allowed one run.

“They’re an extremely well coached team,” Topsail coach Granville Gehris said. “It was a great ballgame to the end.”

The Trojans broke an 18-year drought, making it to the regional final for the first time since 1996.

“Breaking that is a great way for them to end their season,” Durham said. “This group in this dugout right here, I couldn’t ask anything more from them and what they’ve done.”

Topsail will play the winner of the Piedmont-Burns series, which Piedmont leads 1-0, to name a Class 3A state champion. The date and location of the first game of the championship series has not yet been determined.

McCaskill: 919-829-4567

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service