The South Granville baseball team didn’t need the theatrics to win their third-round playoff match-up against the upstart Ayden-Grifton Chargers in the second round on Tuesday.
The Vikings (24-3), who came entered the N.C. High School Athletic Association 2A playoffs as the top seed in the East region, broke open a one-run game into a mercy-rule-winning fifth inning to end the game early. The Vikings sent 13 batters to the plate, had six hits, three walks, and a hit batter as they scored nine runs.
“In the second time through the lineup, we made adjustments and started balancing balls up,” said Vikings coach Jeff Tate. “If we could get to their bullpen we knew we’d be in fairly decent shape. We got to their bullpen and they struggled throwing strikes.”
The Chargers (16-12) used three pitchers, trying to find someone who would be able to limit the damage in the fifth. After Hayden Laws had a leadoff double, Justin Bullock was walked intentionally.
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Tucker Brown had an RBI single to give the Vikings a 4-2 lead. After three more runs scored via a single, fielder’s choice and a passed ball, Laws and Bullock had back-to-back two-RBI singles to make it an 11-2 game. Brown would end it, two batters later with an RBI double.
“Any time you get to the third round of the playoffs, you’re going to have to make someone else make mistakes,” said Tate. “Any time you go on the road in the playoffs and win, you’re a good team. We expected a fight, and that’s what they gave us.”
The Chargers, who entered the playoffs as the No. 21 seed in the East, pulled off back-to-back upsets in the first two rounds. They defeated No. 9 Reidsville, 6-3, and then No. 8 North Brunswick 7-0 before falling in round three. They were poised for another upset as they stayed with the top seed through three innings. Entering a scoreless fourth, Josh Harris reached on an error. After a stolen base and a single from Brenden Mullis, the Chargers took a 2-0 lead thanks to another Viking error.
Their 2-0 lead wouldn’t last long as the Vikings answered with three runs in the fourth to regain the lead.
“We jumped on them and I think that woke them up. They are a good ball team,” said Chargers coach Corey Skinner. “I think us jumping on them a bit fired them up, and you saw how good they can be when they flipped the switch in the fourth and fifth innings.”
He continued: “We executed our game plan. Our game plan was to get up early, use our speed on the bases and put pressure on them. Their bats took over in the fourth and fifth.”