Corinth Holders’ inaugural foray into the N.C. High School Athletic Association 3A baseball playoffs proved to be a mirror image of the team’s regular season.
The Pirates had problems on the mound, at the plate and in the field against host Charles B. Aycock before being ousted via a 9-1 loss to the Golden Falcons.
Aycock wasted little time in going after Pirates starter Jake Lewis, with Garrett Joyner working for a lead-off walk, then getting a towering homer to left from Noah West, who made life miserable for Corinth Holders pitchers all afternoon.
That shot that gave the Falcons a 2-0 lead came on a 3-1 fastball that West hammered, and Pirates left fielder Khalil Hodge could only turn and watch.
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West, who had a 3-for-3 day at the plate, delivered a second homer off Lewis with one out in the third, on an 0-1 fastball that sailed into the woods behind the center field fence.
“Noah can hit,” said Aycock coach Charles Davis. “He don’t try to do anything but hit the ball up the middle, but he can see the ball. The first pitch he knocked out was on a 3-1 fastball.
“And when they threw him a curve to start the next time he came up, I figured that was going to be the last fastball he was going to see, but they came back with a fastball and he knocked it out.”
Davis said West was not like most batters who come to the plate thinking about what would be thrown.
“He’s just ‘See ball, hit ball,’ ” Davis said.
West picked up his fourth RBI of the game with a sharp single to center, plating Joyner during a three-run, fourth-inning rally that blew the game open. Fielding woes in that inning helped the Falcons score those runs following a lead-off double by Jacob Naugh.
The Pirates couldn’t get out of their own way, with a throwing error, a wild pitch and a fielding error leading to two runs before West’s single.
Naugh added a two-run homer in the fifth off reliever Nick Peach, on a drive that many thought Bobby Beare had made a sensational catch of as he crashed into the fence. Beare hit the turf for a few seconds and did not have the ball in his glove when he returned to his feet.
“I thought he had caught the ball, but (he) threw it over the fence when he hit it,” said Pirates coach Adam Weaver.
With each home run, Weaver began to realize the fate of the Pirates.
“With the first one, that didn’t bother me,” Weaver said, noting there was a lot of time and a lot of outs yet to be made. “Then, the kid’s next home run meant a little more, then they punched across another run and another one, and then the one against the center field fence – that was the one that said, ‘OK, it’s going to be that type of night.’ ”
Weaver said the game was reminiscent of how the year had gone for the Pirates.
“We knew we were in for a dog-fight,” he said, “But the pitching didn’t show up at all, we kept getting behind in the count.
“(The Falcons) are good enough hitters to make us pay for that, and they did.”
Weaver also lamented over the lack of production in his lineup, which managed only one hit against Aycock starter Bobby Hampton and reliever Tim Naugh.
Hampton rode a no-hitter through 6 1/3 innings before surrendering a home run to Lewis on an 0-2 count in an at-bat that had seen Lewis foul off four pitches.
But that was the only success the Pirates would have against Hampton, who nixed seven batters and walked just two. The walks came in the top of the first inning and both runners were stranded.
The Pirates managed base runners in the fourth, fifth and seventh innings, all by way of fielding errors.
“That’s the story of our season,” Weaver said. “When things are going good, they’re going good. And when we started slipping behind, we didn’t respond like we needed to.”
Weaver said he was proud of his team for reaching the playoffs for what was a second straight postseason for the program.
“It’s the first time in school history we’ve made the playoffs in back-to-back years,” Weaver said. “And we’re still trying to solidify ourselves to play against teams like Aycock and others we faced this year.”