The 25th edition of the Johnston County Easter Invitational is being played this week at South Johnston High School’s Bruce Coats Field.
A look at the games so far and the schedule ahead. …
Saturday, April 4
Game 1 - Clayton 6, Cleveland 2: Cole Hinnant threw six shutout innings, giving up just three hits to lead the Comets by the Rams. Brooks Verona drove in two runs for the Comets and Sulley Keele went 2-for-4.
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Game 2 - Triton 8, West Johnston 5: Tyler Vaughn drove in four runs to help the Hawks to a first-round victory. Bailey Tart added four hits for Triton, with scored three runs in the top of the seventh inning to grab the victory.
Sterling Atkinson and Tyler Tilson had two-hit days for West Johnston.
Game 3 - Bunn 3, Smithfield-Selma 1: The Spartans outhit Bunn on the afternoon but stranded 10 base runners, allowing the Wildcats to move into the semifinals.
Thomas Dean, David Morgan and Josh Boone had RBIs for Bunn in the win. Cole Pearson and Corey Branch had two hits each for SSS.
Game 4 - Harnett Central 7, South Johnston 1: Tyson Messer threw a complete-game two-hitter with 10 strikeouts to lead Central by South. Ethan Barry was 3-for-3 at the plate with two runs scored.
Zachary Bridges had a double for South in the loss.
Monday, April 6
Game 5 – West Johnston 4, Cleveland 3: Tyler Tilson’s home run got just inside of the right field foul pole and was the difference for West. Tilson’s two-run shot came in the fifth inning.
Cleveland had taken a 3-2 lead in the top half of the fifth inning on a pair of West Johnston fielding errors.
Michael Blevins went 2-for-2 with a walk (drawn just before Tilson’s dinger) on the afternoon. Thomas Coggburn got the win, with Dalton Mundy picking up the save. Mundy pitched out of jams with Cleveland runners in scoring position in the sixth and seventh innings.
Game 6 South Johnston 23, Smithfield-Selma 5: Zachary Bridges and Grant Millay both hit grand slams in a nine-run third inning for the Trojans, who rolled by their Two Rivers 3A Conference rivals in a consolation game Monday afternoon.
Bridges also hit a three-run home run, driving in seven on the afterenoon.
South totaled 15 hits and 10 walks on the afternoon. Nash Johnson and Will Barbour had three-hit afternoons for the Trojans.
Game 7, Semifinal – Triton 22, Clayton 11: In one of the highest scoring games in the 25-year history of the JCEI, Triton prevailed Clayton with a 21-hit evening. The Hawks and Comets combined for seven home runs in the contest.
Aaron Hedgepeth and Logan Bender hit two home runs each for Triton, which took a 4-0 lead in its first at bat, fell behind 5-4 after a five-run Clayton first. The Hawks put up a five-spot in the second and never were threatened again.
Cole Hinnant, Blake Joyner and John Messina homered for the Comets.
Game 8, Semifinal - Bunn 6, Harnett Central 5: Bunn rallied from two deficits the last in the bottom of the seventh inning to advance to the finals against Triton.
Harnett Central took a 5-4 lead in the top of the seventh on an RBI single by X Johnson.
In the bottom half of the inning, Thomas Dean led off with a single for the Wildcats, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by David Morgan and scored on Ian Lands single to right field, tying the game at 5.
After a fielders choice allowed Logan Jackson to reach, Josh Boone came to the plate. Jackson took second during Boones at bat, then raced home when Boones hard ground ball found a hole between the Trojan third baseman and the left field foul line.
Land and Dean had two hits each for the Wildcats, while Anthony Steffenilla had two hits for Central in the loss.
Tuesday, April 7
Game 9 — Cleveland 6, Smithfield-Selma 1: Cleveland’s Landon Brown blew open a tight battle between Two Rivers 3A Conference rivals with a three-run home run in the top of the sixth inning.
It was the Rams’ second win over SSS this season. Brennan Linfield got the win, a complete-game effort.
Game 10 — South Johnston 9, West Johnston 6: The Trojans reeled off another big inning early in a meeting with JoCo rival West Johnston, putting an eight-run second together in the victory.
Alan Johnson homered twice for South, drilling a three-run blast in the big second and adding South’s final run with a solo shot in the fourth.
Game 11 — Clayton 9, Harnett Central 5: Clayton put together an eight-run inning of its own in the third to top Greater Neuse River 4A Conference rival Harnett Central in the third place battle. Mason Medlin hit a solo home run during the big frame.
Sulley Keele got the win on the mound for the Comets, who avenged an earlier conference loss to the Trojans with the win.
Game 12, Championship: Triton vs. Bunn, 7:30