Middle Creek senior Jimmy Boyd was about 3 or 4 years old when the Sublime song “Santeria” was hitting the airwaves.
That’s the song the Mustangs ace has played when he is up to bat because he says it relaxes him.
Boyd and his teammates were definitely singing a sweet tune Thursday, as Middle Creek belted out 11 hits and Boyd pitched a three-hitter in the Mustangs’ 7-0 shutout of Richmond County in the opening game of the best-of-3 N.C. 4A Eastern Regional baseball finals series.
“We’re just having fun and playing like a family,” said Boyd, who was 3-for-4 with two doubles and three RBIs. “Our ‘D’ played great tonight.”
Boyd struck out five and, when the Raiders put the ball in play, infielders Tyler Sholar, Diego Guerrero, Colin Pelosi and Graham Edwards made the stops in an error-free performance.
“These guys have so much fun but still work hard,” said Middle Creek coach Jeremy Thompson, whose team has gone further than any in Mustangs history. “They’re enjoying playing and don’t want to stop.”
Thompson said that entering Thursday’s game, Richmond County had allowed one run in the entire postseason, but Middle Creek (23-6) scored three in both the third and fourth to break the game open. Eight of nine Mustangs had at least one hit.
“We didn’t locate our pitches as well, and Middle Creek is a good hitting team,” said Richmond coach Ricky Young. “You give them good pitches and a team like that is going to hurt you.”
Richmond started right-hander Ryan Mercer, who gave up four runs. Jacob Sears came on in relief for the Raiders (25-6), who advanced to the Eastern finals with a win against Wilmington Ashley.
Boyd and Guerrero (2-for-2) each posted multiple hits for the winners. Guerrero, a freshman, reached first base all three times up.
“It’s just amazing to be this far in the playoffs,” said Guerrero. “I’m just trying to get on base any way I can.”
Blake Hunley got things going for the Mustangs in the third, and Boyd drove him and Sholar in with his double off the right-field wall. David Salmon singled Boyd home for a 3-0 lead.
Guerrero, Hunley and Boyd scored in the fourth on four Mustangs hits.
Middle Creek will travel to Richmond County on Friday. Sal Savarese will start on the mound for the Mustangs.