So far in the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A playoffs, the Green Hope pitching staff finishes what it starts.
Falcons senior Chris Joyner overcame some first-inning mistakes and eventually cruised to Green Hope’s fourth postseason complete game in a row and beat J.H. Rose 2-1 to catapult his team to is first appearance in the East regional finals and win a school-record 23rd game.
There, the No. 4 seed Falcons (23-5) will play a best-of-3 series against No. 3 Hoggard (22-4), the Wilmington school that topped Greenville’s No. 2 D.H. Conley 5-2 Friday.
Joyner’s 102nd and final pitch of the night was swung at and missed by Rampants left fielder Anthony Saieed for the left-hander’s 10th strikeout.
“Chris can be his own worst enemy,” Green Hope coach Michael Miragliuolo said. “He came in after the first inning and said ‘I don’t know what I’m doing.’ I told him to just settle down, and once he does that, we know he’ll be strong.”
Joyner (7-2) walked the first batter he faced on four straight balls to start the night, and eventually Rose’s Greg Hardison scored on an RBI double from Coleman Sawyer.
After that, the only threat by the Rampants (18-8) came with two outs in the top of the sixth.
Rampants second baseman Hunter Christopher beat out an infield single when he blooped a ball over Joyner’s head. Christopher stole second during Tyshawn Barrett’s at-bat.
Barrett then rapped a single to shallow center.
And Falcons center fielder Trevor Losito took over.
He fielded the ball cleanly, throwing a dart to home plate where catcher Drew Hegeman applied the tag.
“Basically, I knew he was going to try and score, no matter what,” Losito, who had an RBI double in the second to tie the game at 1-1. “I ran up, fielded it and made a good throw. It was on the money. All-around it was a great play. I fielded it and threw it, the catcher made the tag.”
Rose head coach Ronald Vincent said his team had no choice.
“We weren’t getting a lot of hits, and we had to do it right there,” he said. “You have to do that if you want to win this game. Especially, the way (Joyner) was throwing.”
Joyner joined fellow senior Mitch Spence with two postseason complete games. The two have combined to allow just three runs.
“At first, I didn’t think I had my best, that I was going to have to go with what I had,” he said. “But I got going and my defense behind me was excellent.”
A two-out rally in the fourth gave Green Hope the lead.
Joseph Nunn and Losito walked on eight straight balls from Rose starter Matt Burne (3-4). After a meeting on the mound, Burne stayed in and freshman shortstop Kohl Abrams hit a single to right to score Nunn.
“All season coach has been saying go backside, go backside,” Abrams said. “Easily, it was the biggest moment of my high school career so far.”