The old line that baseball can be “a game of inches” was re-confirmed yet again last week as Carrboro swept the Mid-State 2A Conference baseball championships.
Make that “a game of inches” and a game of miles. It took three two, three-hour round trips to Reidsville on consecutive afternoons to win the Mid-State’s tournament championship. Carrboro had already clinched the conference’s regular-season title and then hammered that home with an 8-7 win over Reidsville on May 2.
Having earned a first-round bye in the conference tournament, Carrboro downed Bartlett Yancey 4-1 in a semifinal game played Wednesday at Reidsville and then drove back to Reidsville the next day for the tourament final.
Despite playing on the Rams’ home field, the Jaguars played as the home team Thursday. The game was knotted at 2-2 when Carrboro came to bat in the botom of the seventh.
Never miss a local story.
After a groundout by the inning’s leadoff batter, Carrboro’s Noah Jones fought off two strikes to earn a walk. Then, following a strikout by the next Jaguar, Ben West also got behind 0-2 in the count before earning a walk. As West took his fourth ball, Jones caught Reidsville napping and craftily stole third base, going in standing up, uncontested by the catcher.
John Davis came to the plate with the winning run on third and, on a 2-1 count, ripped a shot just to the right of the first-baseman, who dove to knock the ball down but couldn’t field it quickly enough to get Davis out at first or to prevent Jones from getting home for a 3-2 Carrboro win.
Six inches to the left of the first-baseman, and the ball would have been gloved. Six inches more to the fielder’s right, the play on Davis’s walkoff single wouldn’t have been so dramatic.
“The whole game was a battle,” Carrboro coach Shaughn Neal said, noting that the Jaguars’ championships – both regular-season and tournament — were their first ever in baseball.
“We have a decent conference, but I thought all year it was winnable. It was pretty awesome to watch the kids fighting for wins and putting it all together. Everyone seemed to enjoy being on the same team together, and everyone was an important part of the team.”
Davis ended up 1-for-4 at the plate Thursday. Collin Andres went 2-for-4, including an RBI-double, while Jones was 1-2, also with an RBI-double.
Carrboro junor Skylar Furey won the pitching battle with Reidsville’s Blake Stewart. Considered the Mid-State’s top pitcher, Stewart was chased from the mound in the fourth inning, having given up two runs, five hits and four walks against just one strikeout in 3.2 innings. Furey scattered five hits over a full seven innings, giving up just one earned run and striking out four Rams while walking none.
Reidsville (10-12 overall) ended the regular-season at 7-3 and in second place in the Mid-State, two games in back of Carrboro, and the Rams nailed down the league’s No. 2 seed in the upcoming playoffs by reaching the Mid-State final.
Carrboro (14-8) awaits this weekend’s announcement of the N.C. High School Athletics Association seedings to learn its next opponent. As a conference champion, Carrboro is likely to get a home game for Wednesday’s first round.