Senior catcher Mike Sconzo said he thought his Holly Springs team had already won before its game with Middle Creek.
With thunderstorms moving the game from Friday to Saturday night, Holly Springs players had a busy day ahead.
They made their yearly volunteering commitment to the Miracle League of the Triangle – a nonprofit organization that helps children with special needs play baseball – on Saturday from 1-4 p.m. Then they had a few hours to get ready for a showdown with the Mustangs.
When the Golden Hawks won 5-1 against visiting Middle Creek, it topped off an already special day for Sconzo.
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“In my book it was two wins today, not just one. It was great to get out there and enjoy the day with some of those kids,” Sconzo said.
Pitcher Phil Simpson, who went 6 1/3 innings in the win, called it a dose of perspective.
“It’s a privilege to play the game. It definitely makes you want to get out here and appreciate everything that much more,” Simpson said.
There is only a week and a half of regular-season baseball left, and Southwest Wake Athletic Conference teams are scrambling for the final spots.
Holly Springs (12-7, 5-6) now sits tied with Middle Creek (11-9, 5-6) for the fourth and final automatic playoff spot.
“We’ve had quite a few games where we had chances to win and just didn’t get it done,” Holly Springs coach Rod Whitesell said. “And I thought tonight we made plays when we had to.”
The Golden Hawks took the lead in the bottom of the first as Matt Swartz Vega’s fly to center field kept carrying past the outfielder’s head. The single scored Sconzo from third.
Holly Springs clean-up hitter R.J. Arthur hit a solo homer in the third to increase the lead to 2-0.
“We didn’t start with a lot of energy,” Middle Creek coach Wesley King said.
In the fifth, Sconzo’s single through the infield scored Aaron George to make it 3-0. Middle Creek’s Langdon Wilson was brought in to face Arthur later in the inning with two outs.
Wilson got Arthur to pop up to center field but the ball was dropped, and the error allowed two Hawks to score and make it 5-0.
Wilson and starter Tyler Sholar combined to allow just four Holly Springs hits, but untimely miscues in the field brought in three runs.
“We feel like we controlled their bats,” King said. “It’s just one of those things, if we don’t give a team extra outs we might’ve had a chance maybe. It would’ve been 2-0 going into the seventh.”
Middle Creek tacked on one in the seventh as first baseman Trevor Heasley singled in Diego Guerrero.
Simpson, who struck out six and allowed six hits, was removed for Matt Devers. Devers got the first batter to ground into an unconventional 4-3 double play to get the save and end the game.
Simpson located the fastball well all night.
“He hit his spots, got the ball down and got in good pitcher’s counts,” Sconzo said.
After starting the year 5-1, Holly Springs lost six of its next 11 before winning its last two. A tough road remains, however: Its last three games are against the top three teams in the league.
“It’s a step in the right direction,” Sconzo said.