Holly Springs centerfielder Patrick Wheeler felt momentum had changed after he doubled to lead off the seventh inning. But when he reached second base, just in case there was any doubt in his dugout, he yelled out to his teammates to get them fired up for one last rally.
The Golden Hawks’ only runs came in the following at-bats as Holly Springs took home a 3-1 victory against Green Hope on Friday.
“He started me off (with a) curveball both at-bats, so I was waiting on it,” Wheeler said of starter Mitch Spence. “I knew we needed something, and when I got to second I knew I needed to pump up the dugout because I needed to score.”
Alex Simpson brought in Wheeler on a bloop single. Two more batters loaded the bases with no outs, forcing Green Hope to bring in UNC Wilmington recruit Chris Joyner for Spence (six innings, seven strikeouts).
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Back-to-back sac flies from Camden Munise and Matt Willadsen brought in the Hawks’ final two runners.
“We lost to them last time really close. We wanted to win this one bad and get ahead in the conference,” said Holly Springs pitcher Jake Isbell, who went the complete game with nine hits allowed and three strikeouts.
Green Hope (12-4, 6-3 Southwest Wake 4A), No. 3 in the N&O rankings, had a 1-0 lead entering the seventh against No. 4 Holly Springs (14-3, 6-3). The Falcons entered game on a four-game win streak and the Golden Hawks now have won seven in a row.
Green Hope had just scored in the bottom of the sixth on an single by Spence.
“I thought we had hit quite a few balls hard that they had made really good plays defensively on, so I felt if we could just get a ball or two in we could get momentum to swing a little bit,” Holly Springs coach Rod Whitesell said. “That’s a really good win. Two really, really good teams.”
They said it
“The key, to be honest, was our missed opportunities early on. We were outhitting them. We had a guy not read a ball correctly, with a guy on second and two outs, on a blooper – he didn’t read it, he thought it was foul. We cost ourselves there. We didn’t get a bunt down in a big situation. To me, it should have been three or four to zero going into that last inning. We’ve got a lot of cleaning up to do.” – Green Hope coach Mike Miragliuolo.
There were a number of flashy plays with the glove through the first 5 1/2 innings to keep the zeroes on the scoreboard.
▪ A smooth 4-6-3 double play by Holly Springs to end the first.
▪ Rightfielder R.J. Witschger threw out Green Hope’s Trevor Losito at home to end the second after the speedy Losito reached second on a dropped fly to left field.
▪ Spence snared a line drive that missed his face by inches to end the third.
▪ A backhand by Green Hope’s Austen Jones and the flip to Spence was the first out in the fourth.
▪ Green Hope third baseman Connor Knapp got a slow grounder and fired it on the move to Jones for a 5-3 forceout to lead off the sixth.
▪ Simpson threw out Losito trying to steal second in the fifth when Green Hope was unable to get a bunt down on the play.