South Granville’s defending state championship baseball team will indeed defend its title.
The Vikings are returning to the N.C. High School Athletic Association 2A state finals after they edged Edenton Holmes 4-3 Thursday night at home. The victory completed a two-game sweep for 15th-seeded South Granville (23-3) over No. 4 seed Edenton Holmes (23-3) to a second straight NCHSAA 2A East Region title.
“It’s crazy,” said South Granville junior pitcher/outfielder/first baseman Justin Bullock. “This will be the the best thing that ever happened if we win the state title again. Not many people can say they won back-to-back state championships. That’s our goal.”
The N.C. State-bound Bullock played a big role in both victories.
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In Tuesday’s 4-0 victory, he pitched 5 2/3 innings and struck out eight to pick up the victory.
In Thursday’s game, he came to the plate with two outs and the Vikings trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the fifth inning. With Tucker Britt on second base, Bullock drove a deep shot to the fence in left-center field for a double to tie the game.
“I didn’t want to swing at anything high,” Bullock said. “I got a pitch over the plate where I wanted and did with it what I could. I was just trying to help out the team.”
Austin Bailey followed with a single to score Bullock. Justin Brown singled to advance Bailey to third and Clay Waters singled to score Brown.
The Vikings were two outs from a 3-1 victory in the seventh, but the Aces’ Nathanial Stallings drew a walk and came home on a triple by Chace Kelly. A single by leadoff batter Jordan Bobbitt suddenly tied the game.
But South Granville again answered. Tucker Brown, batting ninth, led off with a bloop single and Bullock followed with a single. Bailey laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance the runners, but Brown was able to come all the way home when the throw to first base was in the dirt and skipped down the line for the only error of the game by both teams.
South Granville’s defense in the first inning also contributed to the win. Edenton Holmes’ Luke Hoggard singled to right field with a runner on second, but right fielder Tucker Brown threw to the plate in time for catcher Spencer Shifflett to make the tag.
“The ball got through and I heard the second baseman (Brice Strickland) yell ‘Throw it,’ ” Brown said. “I was charging when I fielded and just let it go.”
The throw was in front of the plate for Shifflett to make the tag despite the runner trying to reach around him to the plate on a head-first slide. Brown also threw out a runner at third base in the first-round win.