As the bottom half of the 4A East baseball bracket turns into a pseudo-conference tournament, Fuquay-Varina will be playing its second Tri-Nine foe in as many contests Friday as it visits Middle Creek.
The Mustangs needed just five innings to wrap up an easy 10-0 home win against Wake Forest-Rolesville Wednesday night, while Fuquay used seven runs in the sixth-inning to knock out Holly Springs, another Tri-Nine team, 12-0 in six innings.
Friday’s winner will match-up against the Apex-Millbrook victor next, and Apex is another Tri-Nine team.
“The conference tournament continues,” said Fuquay-Varina coach Milton Senter.
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For Fuquay, it was a table-turning from last year, when the Bengals were on the road at Holly Springs for the second round only to lose 3-2 in a walk-off. The Bengals exacted revenge by having a walk-off of their own, as senior Addison Braswell went the opposite way on a 3-run home run over the “Green Monster” to end the game on the 10-run rule.
“That was the plan,” to hit the walk-off homer said Braswell, a senior N.C. State recruit who had four RBIs. “It’ll be fun (Friday). Both teams are good and we’ll both have our big guys on the mound.”
The game was 5-0 in Fuquay’s favor going into the bottom of the sixth, where three Holly Springs errors grew the Bengals’ lead. Holly Springs had seven hits, but Fuquay’s fielding kept the defending 4A champion Golden Hawks (12-13) scoreless.
“We had a lot of chances early,” said Holly Springs coach Rod Whitesell. “We just couldn’t get the clutch hit.”
Junior N.C. State recruit Garrett Suggs had a leadoff home run to start the game, and added an infield RBI in the fifth inning. Zak Orrison added two RBIs.
“Words can’t describe how much it meant for us and the seniors after last year,” Suggs said. “We came back and made a statement.”
Middle Creek’s win marked the 20th of the season for the Mustangs (20-6) but more importantly it was the first time any player on its roster had earned a berth in the third round of the playoffs.
Senior Jimmy Boyd posted four RBIs, including a two-run homer.
“We had a heart-to-heart chat late in the season and our approach at the plate has gotten a lot better,” said Middle Creek head coach Jeremy Thompson, whose Mustangs belted out 11 base hits against the Cougars. “These kids did a great job tonight. This team has had a lot of fun but they still know how to maintain their focus.”
Boyd went 3-for-3, as did teammate Keenan Herring, who also finished with four RBIs. Boyd blasted a 375-foot shot in the first inning, and then Middle Creek scored four runs in both the third and fourth innings to end WF-R’s season with a 13-9 record.
“We’re just having a good time and doing a lot of things to lighten the mood out there,” said Boyd. “We play loose because when you’re scared to mess up, that’s when you mess up.”
Graham Edwards earned the win, posting six strikeouts without giving up a walk. Steven Sharma took the loss for the Cougars.
Tyler Sholar and Boyd each scored three times, while David Salmon, Edwards and Blake Hunley belted out base hits.
“The bottom line is our conference is 8-2 through the first two rounds,” Thompson said. “There is some good baseball being played in southwest Wake County.”
The Mustangs will host the Bengals at 7 p.m. Friday night. Middle Creek is expected to pitch Boyd, while Fuquay is likely to throw Garrett Suggs. Dave Malenick contributed to this report.