West Johnston found itself in the same spot it was almost a year ago against Clayton on the baseball diamond Tuesday afternoon.
But the Wildcats persevered and ended the night back in a tie for first place in the Greater Neuse River 4A Conference race after a wild 9-6 victory over Clayton, which just beat a thunderstorm.
West built a 6-0 lead on the Comets only to see Clayton pull even with a five-run fifth inning.
The Wildcats scored three runs in the top of the seventh inning, executing bunts at the right time and taking advantage of a couple of Comet fielding errors to get the victory and move to 6-1 in the league, tied with Garner.
Garner took its first loss of the conference season on Monday, falling 11-6 to Rolesville. The Trojans bounced back with an 8-1 win over Southeast Raleigh on Tuesday afternoon.
“It's was almost deja vu, a 6-0 lead that turns in to a tie” said West coach Joey Worley of his team’s win over Clayton, flashing back to last year’s collapse. “I started seeing replays of last year all over again. But we did find a way to win this year.”
Cameron Meyers led the West offense with three hits, including a double. He also drove in two runs. Meyers also came on to pitch the final 2.1 innings to get the victory.
Michael Blevins reached base three times for West and Sterling Atkinson hit a long home run over the center field fence at Andy Pleasant Field to score two runs.
“Cameron did a great job of coming in and putting the flames out and finishing strong,” Worley said. “We just mentally took ourselves right out of the game looking at what happened a year ago. You can’t do that against good teams and expect to win all the time. We were just fortunate to come out on top today.”
The nine-run output was another solid afternoon for the West offense, which leads the Greater Neuse River Conference with 74 runs scored in its seven league games so far.
“Our hitting has been getting better throughout the year,” Worley said. “We still have not put a complete game together where everything is clicking. but that is high school baseball. We just need to keep swinging it and taking advantage of runners in scoring position and two-out hits. Those are the things that win big games.”
There’s still another round of games to be played, but the race for the playoffs seems to have settled out with five teams vying for three guaranteed bids.
Clayton (4-3), Harnett Central (3-3) and Knightdale (3-3) all had three losses, two behind West and Garner in the loss column after Tuesday’s action.
Garner hosts West Johnston on Tuesday, April 21, in one of the bigger games of the second half of the league schedule.