It'll be a short drive for fans of the teams in the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A East regional series, which begins Tuesday.
Apex won its third straight road game of the postseason, downing South Wake Athletic Conference foe Garner 4-2, while Fuquay-Varina claimed a 4-0 win at home against visiting Sanderson. The latter was called in the top of the seventh after a second rain delay left the infield, particularly the second base area, too waterlogged to continue play.
By N.C. High School Athletic Association rules, teams cannot postpone the game to a later date if 4 1/2 innings are complete, even in the playoffs. Game officials make the final call. According to Fuquay-Varina coach Zach Boraski, it would have been 90 minutes before the field could be made safe and playable again, which would put the restart time around 11 p.m.
"Now for (Sanderson coach) Todd (Laughlin) I would've done it. I hate that his season ended that way. That's hard. But it's not our call," Boraski said.
Sanderson (14-12) had runners on second and third with one out and Alim McNeill at the plate when the second and final rain delay occurred.
"It's been a tale of two seasons. We started off the year 4-9, and for them to battle back and make the final eight in the state, there's an awful lot to be proud of," Sanderson coach Todd Laughlin said.
Apex is making its return to the East final for the first time since 2000. The Cougars (17-8) have won six straight dating back to an April 27 loss to Fuquay-Varina (18-10).
"I knew that we were a tight group early on, 11 seniors who have played together for a long time. We changed up the lineup a little bit and it seems we've caught a spark and given us some balance from top to bottom," Apex coach Mike Valder said. "Our pitching's been solid, our defense has made big plays."
In 3A, Chapel Hill fell on the road 3-1 to No. 1 seed New Hanover, the state's lone undefeated team. On the other side of the East bracket, 26th-seeded Union Pines dropped a 1-0 loss at Fayetteville's Terry Sanford.
In 2A, No. 4 South Granville had no hits in the top of the ninth inning with one out, but as soon as Whiteville pitcher Brooks Baldwin was pulled due to the pitch count limit, the Vikings posted a run and led 1-0 going into the bottom of the ninth inning.
However, the host No. 1 Wolfpack scored twice to walk-off to a 2-1 victory in nine innings. On Monday, No. 2 North Lenoir won 1-0 on a walk-off squeeze play to oust No. 3 Randleman.
Falls Lake Academy, a charter school in Granville County, ended its best season in school history with a 4-3 loss in eight innings at Williamston's Riverside High. The Firebirds do not have a senior class yet.
Cleveland is heading to its first East final in program history after a 3-2 win at No. 1 West Brunswick in the 3A playoffs. The Rams never trailed after a two-run homer by Julia Wiggs in the top of the first.
Louisburg notched a walk-off, 2-1 victory against Perquimans to advance to the 1A East final series against Camden County. The Warriors trailed 1-0 entering the seventh.
In 4A, South Central downed Heritage 5-2 on Monday. The Falcons will play Jack Britt in the 4A East series.
In 2A, North Johnston is in the East final series after a 5-2 victory over Bartlett Yancey. The Panthers will await either South Granville or Whiteville, which has been postponed twice (Friday to Monday, Monday to Tuesday).
D.H. Conley and Western Alamance’s fourth-round game was also moved to Tuesday.
In a showdown between the two top-ranked teams in the PrepsNow area, Leesville Road (seeded second overall in the East) edged Green Hope (seeded third) by a 2-1 score.
The Pride will host 4-seed Fuquay-Varina, which edged No. 9 Wakefield 1-0 on Saturday.
In the 4A West, Pinecrest is in the regional final after a 2-1 win at Northwest Guilford. The Patriots will travel to Charlotte's Myers Park.
The best season in Clayton history came to a close with a 2-1 defeat at Jacksonville in the 3A playoffs. The Cardinals will play either Chapel Hill, which shut out D.H. Conley 1-0 on Saturday. Chapel Hill has yet to allow a goal in this postseason through four rounds, while Conley only allowed one in its run.
In 2A, the three-time defending state champion Carrboro Jaguars are heading to another 2A East final after defeating 1-seed Dixon 2-1 in Onslow County. A trip to First Flight awaits on Tuesday.
In 1A, Raleigh Charter blanked Neuse Charter 7-0, bringing the most successful season in the Smithfield school's history to a close. The No. 2 Phoenix will visit No. 1 Franklin Academy on Tuesday.