Holly Springs scored three runs off the first six pitches thrown by J.H. Rose, and the Golden Hawks never lost momentum.
Holly Springs’ bats bashed the Rampants 15-2 in five innings in a fourth-round baseball matchup Friday in the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A playoffs at Guy Smith Stadium.
Holly Springs (23-5) will face New Hanover, a 7-0 winner over Fuquay-Varina, in a best-of-3 Eastern regional series scheduled to start next week.
“They beat the crap out of us,” Rose coach Ronald Vincent said. “You got to give it all to Holly Springs. They hit the ball. Everything we threw up there, they hit it.”
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The Golden Hawks piled up 14 hits as each starter in the lineup crossed the plate at least once.
Matt Willadsen blooped the game’s first pitch into short left field for a single, Tyler Babin walked on four pitches and Ethan Miles launched the first pitch he saw over the left-field fence to put the Golden Hawks ahead 3-0.
Holly Springs wasted no time at the plate, not even trying to go deep into counts during its at-bats in the early innings.
“We always talk about being really aggressive early in the counts on fastballs,” Holly Springs coach Rod Whitesell said. “Most of the pitches we got early in counts were fastballs that we can handle. Later in the game, we laid off breaking balls early in the count and got hitter’s counts.”
Vincent did think about pulling starter Chandler Hallow after those first six pitches, but decided against it.
“After 3-0, we said he’s going to settle down a little bit,” he said. “He has a tendency to throw better as he goes on.”
Still in the first inning, Camden Munise followed with a single and, two batters later, Brenden Wright launched the first pitch he saw over the center-field fence to push Holly Springs’ lead to five.
At that point, Hallow was pulled for Michael Crumpler. Hallow was tagged with the loss, giving up the pair of home runs, four hits in all and five earned runs while retiring one batter.
“The game was pretty much dictated in the first five or six batters,” Vincent said. “We got behind 5-0, and couldn’t do anything to stop it.”
Rose answered with a run in the bottom of the first as Coleman Sawyer singled with one out, took second on a wild pitch and scored on Tyshawn Barrett’s single.
Holly Springs went back to work in the third, loading the bases with no one out. Miles and Munise singled, and Cameron Ellington laid down a perfect bunt single down the third-base line to load the bases.
Wright’s sacrifice fly allowed Miles to score, and Munise came home on a passed ball. Cole Hoops singled past a drawn-in infield to drive in Ellington and Brandon George. Sam Kulasingam singled, and Babin’s single – combined with a fielding error – drove in Hoops and Kulasingam to put Holly Springs up 11-1.
The Golden Hawks piled up six runs on six hits and sent 11 batters to the plate in the third inning.
“We didn’t make errors,” Vincent said. “They just hit it. Just put us on our heels and we couldn’t get off of it.”
Rose’s Hunter Christopher lifted a one-out solo shot over center field in the fourth to draw the Rampants within 12-2.
Willadsen earned the win pitching, holding the high-powered Rampants to three hits and two runs, both earned. He struck out seven and walked two.
J.H. Rose, champions of the Eastern Carolina 3A/4A Conference, finishes its season 23-4.
“We’re not going to let the last two hours reflect on everything we’ve accomplished the last two or three years,” Vincent said. “It’s a big deal to me: You don’t have to win championships to be champions. Just hate to see them go out the way we did tonight.”