Garner stayed right in the thick of the fight for a NCHSAA 4A baseball playoff spot Friday night behind freshman Brett Banks’ complete game one-hitter, a 5-1 win over Greater Neuse River Conference leader West Johnston.
With a week to go in the regular season, the Wildcats are 12-10 overall and 10-2 in the league. Garner is 11-10 overall and in a four-way tie for second with an 8-4 league record. The top three teams get into the playoffs while the others in contention could also make postseason as a wildcard based on the overall record.
Banks gave up the Wildcats’ only hit and only run in the bottom of the second. Banks walked leftfielder Andre Wilson and gave up a double down the rightfield line to first baseman Wade Eatmon. Second baseman Garrett Eddens gave his team a 1-0 lead on a groundout that drove in Wilson.
Garner gave Banks all the run support he needed with a four-run outburst in the fourth inning. Shortstop Tyler Gillespy reached when hit by a pitch and third baseman Wellington Guzman singled to center.
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West then made an error on first baseman Noah Gallogly’s bunt, allowing Gillespy to score. Designated hitter Cody Jones singled to load the bases and rightfielder Jack Elliot was hit by a pitch to force in the second run. Gallogly scored on a double play and then centerfielder Trevor Blalock singled in Jones for the 4-1 lead.
“We just couldn’t overcome that inning,” West Johnston coach Joey Worley said. “Cameron Meyers was rolling along fine on the mound until then. But tonight their pitcher shut us down. He pitched a gem.It was just one of those games for us.”
Banks faced the minimum 12 batters over the last four innings.
“I felt good warming up tonight and felt during the game I was throwing harder,” Banks said. “I was trying to mix in my change-up and curve because they are a good hitting team. I got through a rough inning and got the complete game and the win, definitely my best game so far.”
Three to know
Brett Banks, Garner: The freshman got this second win, which was huge for the Trojans. “He’s just a freshman, but one of our guys on the mound,” Garner coach Derik Goffena said. “Obviously this was his best performance. And that was against a good-hitting team.”
Jack Elliott, Garner: Garner only got five hits in the win, but made the most of them. Elliott had the Trojans’ only extra base hit, a double in the sixth. He scored later in the inning on a passed ball.
Garrett Giddens, West Johnston: Defensively, Giddens was steady and made a couple of tough plays at second base. The junior also drove in his team’s only run.
They said it
“Offensively, we were finally able to piece together a rally,” Garner coach Goffena said. “They had a good, experienced, senior pitcher out there.”
While West Johnston has a pair of games next week against Knightdale, Garner still has a nonconference game against Fuquay-Varina and then closes the season with a pair of games against Rolesville, one of the teams in the four-way tie for second.
“We need to get some more wins,” Goffena said. “If we don’t finish in the top three after the tiebreakers, we could still get in as a wild card.”