Most hitters at the plate with two outs would admit to a few nerves.
But Green Hope centerfielder Luca Scelsi said that wasn’t the case with the Falcons baseball team.
Scelsi, a junior, and pinch hitter Keaton Derks belted out clutch two-out hits and drove in five runs to help propel Green Hope to a 7-0 victory over Middle Creek on Tuesday.
The win pushed the Falcons (15-5 overall) into a first-place tie with the Mustangs (16-5), and avenged an 8-0 defeat earlier in the season. Both teams are 10-3 in the Tri-9, with Fuquay-Varina just behind in the standings.
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Green Hope senior Will Gilbert was dominant on the mound, earning the shutout and remaining unbeaten (7-0). Gilbert struck out ten Middle Creek batters and allowed just two hits.
“That was a heck of a performance,” said Falcons head coach Michael Miragliulo. “We played an all-around good game. Our guys came up with some timely two-out hits, and Will was dominant. This win gets us in the playoffs.”
Scelsi got things started for the Falcons in the first inning with a two-out triple, driving in Stephen Pitarra and Thomas Yoder.
“I was down 0-2 in the count and was just trying to protect, but I drove it to right center and got things going,” said Scelsi, who was 2-for-3 with 3 RBIs. “I wasn’t really nervous, just excited because we needed this ‘W’ tonight.”
Although Gilbert had the Mustangs off balance most of the game, Scelsi helped Green Hope avoid a game-changer in the top of the fourth. Middle Creek’s Keenan Herring led off the inning with a deep shot to centerfield, but Scelsi made the tough catch going backwards.
Jimmy Boyd then belted a single, but Gilbert forced a double play. And the Falcons were out of the inning still holding the 2-0 lead.
They added two more in the bottom of the fourth. Derks nailed a two-out hit up the middle, bringing home Scelsi and John Hardin, who had both singled.
“A lot of small things added up to a big loss,” said Jeremy Thompson, Middle Creek head coach. “Every time we needed something big they made the play. We’ve got three games left and just have to shake this off and react in a positive way.”
Gilbert, who is batting over .500, also helped his cause at the plate by going 2-for-3 with an RBI.
“We like to know that we can beat a good team and pitcher,” said Gilbert.
He thought he had good control on the mound and was mixing his pitches really well, he said. “I was a little more psyched up for this game – a lot of curveballs. But then, I was able to throw hard when I had to.”
Boyd lost his first game of the year, falling to 5-1.
Green Hope finishes the regular season against Cary and Panther Creek. Middle Creek goes on to face Holly Springs and Apex.