Apex pulled off their second upset in a row Tuesday, beating Leesville Road 3-1. The Cougars advance to the third round of the NCHSAA 4A baseball playoffs.
The Cougars (14-10), seeded fourth out of the Tri-9, were cruising until the final inning, when the Pride (17-6), seeded second out of the Cap Eight, scored their only run and had the game-winning run at the plate.
Apex senior Matt Tenuta hit the Pride’s first batter before giving up consecutive singles to close the deficit to 3-1. But Tenuta struck out the final three batters to earn the save.
Senior Keaton Oaks pitched five dominant innings for the Cougars, not allowing a runner past second base
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“I went out on the mound with a different mindset tonight,” Oaks said. “It could’ve been my last game, so I gave all I had.”
He gave up two hits and one walk and struck out two batters.
“The offensive struggles for us early on had a lot to do with their ability to throw the ball,” Leesville coach Chad Smothers said. “Their pitchers really kept us off-balance.”
The Cougars jumped on Leesville starter Sean Ross early when senior shortstop Alann Kragnes started the game with a double.
Two batters later, senior catcher Kyle May drove in Kragnes with a single to give Apex an early 1-0 lead.
Kragnes extended the lead in the sixth inning with a 2-run double.
“[Kragnes] had several great at-bats tonight, and made a couple great defensive plays,” Apex coach Mike Valder said. “He got the biggest hit right when we really needed it.”