Raleigh Post 1 forced a fifth and deciding game in its American Legion Area I West Finals series against Garner with an 11-10 victory in extra innings Wednesday night at Campbell University’s Jim Perry Stadium.
Kiki Kornegay scored from third base on a wild pitch in the top of the 10th inning and Andrew Papp retired Garner in 1-2-3 fashion in the bottom of the frame to knot the best-of-five series at 2-2 with the final game set for Friday night at Apex High School.
For the second night in row, a middle inning surge gave Post 1 a three-run lead and for the second night in a row, Raleigh saw that lead disappear.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, Garner scored three runs after Andrew Papp, a Clemson University signee, came on in relief.
A run scoring groundout from Vincent Addona was followed by RBI singles from Zeke and then Matthew Barefoot to help Garner draw even.
This time around, Raleigh was able to bounce back.
Kornegay led off the top of the 10th inning with a single to right, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt from Dalton Bass and moved over to third on a deep fly ball before a Troy Maslowski slider found the dirt and then the backstop allowing Kornegay to sprint home with the eventual game-winning run.
The teams combined for 31 hits on the night but Raleigh starting pitcher Sam Duncan put in six and two-thirds innings of important work to help a tired Post 1 pitching staff.
Duncan gave up seven unearned runs but denied the Nationals a huge inning that’s become commonplace in a series that has seen 82 runs scored in its first four installments.
Five hits led to six runs in the top of the fifth inning for Raleigh to help Post 1 take its first lead after trailing 4-2 in the early innings.
Caleb Coyle and Trevor Edge both had RBI singles in the huge frame for Post 1. A throwing error led to two more runs and Jon Rhew knocked in Mason Dwinell with a grounder to second base to help give Raleigh the 9-4 lead.
For the Nationals, Matthew Barefoot, Zeke Barefoot and Kyle Hawley all turned in three-hit games as Garner pounded out 17 hits but it is pitching that Coach Chris Cook will be looking for in the series finale.
“We’ll have some arms to throw,” Cook said. “If we get some good starting pitching, we should be alright.”
For the second game in a row, Caleb Coyle contributed three base hits on the night for Post 1 as did Dillon Cooper.
It’s been a grueling and testy series thus far between the rivals and Post 1 coach Aaron Rich knows keeping a level head will by key for his club on Friday.
“Coach Cook and I have a heated rivalry, the players do too and the fans do … I just want to make sure that we can get out of this with our heads straight,” Rich said. “But it’s a great series.”