Playing from behind hasn’t been a thing for the Green Hope baseball team in the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A playoffs.
The Falcons had trailed for just 1 1/2 innings in winning their first six games. All that changed on Friday, as the Falcons fell behind early and never challenged North Davidson in dropping Game 1 of the best-of-three state championship series 6-0.
“We did not show up today. Not at all,” Green Hope head coach Michael Miragliuolo said. “We’ve got to show up tomorrow, or it’s going to be a very short series.”
Plagued by poor fielding, base-running blunders and other uncharacteristic miscues, the Falcons (25-6) simply never got going. This despite putting runners on base in every inning. Seven different GH batters had hits.
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Senior center fielder Trevor Losito summed up the Falcons first-ever game in a state championship setting inside the Carolina Mudcats’ Five County Stadium.
“I think we were a little tense from the start,” he said. “We just didn’t do what we’ve been doing all year. But we’ve got to remember, we can do exactly that.”
Game 2 is Saturday at 11 a.m. Game 3, if necessary, will be at 5.
“Our backs are to the wall,” Losito said. “But we’re good to go. We’ve got (senior Chris) Joyner going tomorrow. It’s going to be interesting.”
North Davidson’s E.P. Reese led off the bottom of the first by reaching on a throwing error, going to second on a bunt and third on a groundout, but Green Hope starter Mitch Spence induced a chopper back to the mound to get out of trouble.
The Black Knights (29-2) got on the scoreboard first in the second after a two-out, four-pitch walk to Corey Joyce was followed by a ground-rule double by Jed Bryant.
Spence struck out the next batter to avoid any more damage, but in the third he wasn’t able to.
Reese struck out, but reached on a passed ball. The Black Knights then got three straight singles by Jackson Meadows, Landon Michael and Cole Beeker made it 2-0.
After an out, an RBI fielder’s choice grounder by Joe Butts pushed the lead to 3-0.
Reese reached on an error in the fourth, eventually scoring on a wild pitch.
Spence took the loss, going four innings. He allowed five hits and four runs (three earned). He walked one, hit a batter and had two wild pitches.
Meanwhile, North Davidson lefty-hander Cole Beeker was getting outs any way he could. All five of his strikeouts were of the looking variety, and he picked off two runners as well as getting double plays in the sixth and seventh innings in getting the complete game.
Up to that point, Reese’s stat-line epitomized Green Hope’s big-stage troubles. He was 0 for 3, but reached on two errors and a dropped third strike, scoring twice.
His fourth at-bat was an RBI double that made it 5-0, eventually scoring on an RBI single by Meadows for the final score.
“Here, you want someone to beat you,” Miragliuolo said. “But we helped them beat us.”