Rosewood beat James Kenan for the third time this season to advance to the third round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association 1A baseball playoffs Friday night with a 7-2 victory.
The Eagles will host Pinetown’s Northside High of the Coastal Plains Conference on Tuesday.
Rosewood never trailed as starting pitcher Kolby Harris pitched late into the seventh before Boone Moody came in for a two-out save.
James Kenan coach Raymond Spell said the home team benefited from his side’s early fielding errors, like the ones that gave the Eagles a 3-0 lead before the Tigers (13-10) had recorded an out.
“We’re a baseball team that has to work to be good and we’re a team that can’t make mistakes and give up runs like we did tonight,” he said. “They had solid pitching, they hit the ball well. If you give you that many runs to a good baseball team you’re going to lose nine out of ten times.”
James Kenan’s fielders weren’t the only players struggling in the cool, wet weather that made the playoff tilt feel more like a season opener.
The 3-0 margin held until the third, when Dez Tillery singled and eventually scored on a throwing error after getting caught in a rundown between third and home to put James Kenan on the board.
Rosewood coach Jason King said in the third round he’s hoping to get a more complete fielding effort from his team, which committed a handful of errors he said were uncharacteristic of his team.
“Defensively there’s some things we need to clean up – throwing the baseball across the diamond,” he said. “We made some outstanding plays tonight so it’s not that we just came out and played badly defensively. We just had a couple of plays I feel like we normally make. ... There are some areas that we can improve on, but we played well enough to win.”
Rosewood (21-4) outscored the Tigers by a combined 10 runs during Carolina 1A regular season play, but King said that familiarity made the third matchup more challenging.
“It’s very difficult. Both teams know each other very well,” he said. “You know you’ve got to come out and play your game as best you can.”
For Rosewood, that means pitching and hitting. Harris recorded eight strikeouts and helped his own cause with two RBIs in the first inning before stealing a base and scoring in the sixth.
“Our pitching is strong. We did hit the ball. We got some runs when we needed them,” he said. “We’ve just got to come out and play smart baseball and be in it from the first inning to the seventh.”
Despite the result, Spell said he was encouraged by how his team finished and what that means for the future of the program.
“This team three years ago only had three wins and now we’ve gone in back-to-back seasons to the playoffs,” he said. “I’m proud of where we’re at and where we finished. The program is moving forward.”