New Hanover’s incredible postseason pitching performances continued to take down one last Southwest Wake Athletic Conference team on Friday night.
The Wildcats completed a two-game sweep of Holly Springs in the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A East final, winning 1-0 on the Golden Hawks’ home field.
New Hanover, which also took out Middle Creek and Fuquay-Varina, has only allowed one run in six postseason games. The two East regional finalists were separated by just three runs: New Hanover (25-3) won Game 1 Thursday night 1-0.
“Their pitcher just neutralized us. I thought we hit a few balls hard. The first ball of the game we smoke and it’s an out and we hit a ball to left-center and they had it played perfectly,” Holly Springs coach Rod Whitesell said. “Tough way to lose to get shut out back-to-back but give them all the credit. Their pitchers did the job and they played great defense behind them.”
In Game 2, New Hanover left-handed sophomore Blake Waltson allowed two hits and struck out eight. He’s allowed just six hits while starting half of the Wildcat’s six postseason games.
Going against right-handed sophomore Matt Willadsen, the Game 2 starter for Holly Springs (23-7), the Wildcats had to work just to scrape together one run.
New Hanover went up 1-0 in the top of the third on a single from Max Hildreth that brought home Alec Cortner from third. After reaching base on a single, Cortner had stolen second and moved to third on the errant throw.
Willadsen only allowed five hits and struck out six, but one run was enough for New Hanover – and it would’ve been good in four other postseason shutouts.
“When our kids look back, they’re going to be proud of what they did,” Whitesell said. “We’ve been in so many one-run ballgames all year and we found a ways to win them in a tough league. ... To play two really close pitchers’ duels and to lose both of them, it stings a little bit because our kids have competed in that all year and found ways to win.”
New Hanover awaits Asheville’s T.C. Roberson in next week’s series. Game 1 will be Friday and Games 2 and 3 will be Saturday at a site to be announced early next week.
The Golden Hawks will say goodbye to 10 seniors who helped win the SWAC this year.
“Our basic message is ‘Life’s tough and this hurts. It hurts because you care and you put a lot into it,’” Whitesell said. “The biggest message to our seniors is, as a coaching staff, we’re always there for them. We want to be a part of their lives in the future in everything they’re going to accomplish. High school baseball is great, but it shouldn’t be a highlight of their life. We want them to continue to work hard and take the lessons they learned here and further them in their futures.”