Game 3 will decide which South Wake Athletic Conference baseball team will go to next week’s state championship.
Apex evened the series on Thursday with a 2-0 win in Game 2, thanks to a complete game shutout by junior Sam Highfill, an N.C. State recruit. Fuquay-Varina (19-11) had won the first three meetings this season with Apex (18-9), including a 13-hit effort that resulted in a six-inning, 11-1 win in Game 1.
After a leadoff triple in the fourth by Cameron Roof, the Cougars scored on an RBI double by Wyatt McInnis and an RBI single from Avery Ridout for the game’s only runs.
“Obviously, I think Sam did a heck of a job on the mound and really competed. They had pressure on us a few innings there and he battled his way out,” Apex coach Mike Valder said. “I’m just super proud of these guys, because they could’ve laid over. ... This group right here is a lot of quality kids and I’m super proud of the effort they came out of here with today.”
Fuquay-Varina, which had the bases loaded in the top of the fifth but a diving Apex catch in center field ended the threat, plans to throw its ace on Friday at home in Game 3.
Kyle Mott hasn’t been used since last week’s fourth-round win against Sanderson.
“It’s no secret,” Fuquay-Varina coach Zach Boraski said. “I thought we played a very good game, we just got beat. That’s fine. Tomorrow we’ll do the same thing and see where it takes us. For me, I’m not a big fan of change and I thought we played well enough tonight. We just ran into a guy making quality pitches; it happens.”
▪ North Lenoir will try to stave off elimination on Friday at home against Whiteville in Game 2 of the 2A East series. Whiteville had a perfect game through five innings of Game 1 before North Lenoir’s bats came alive in a 4-2 loss.
▪ Much like the rain cloud that follows Eeyore in the Winnie-the-Pooh cartoons, South Granville’s softball couldn’t get away from Mother Nature.
But at last, the fourth round is done.
The Vikings defeated Whiteville 7-5 in nine innings in a game that was originally scheduled for last Friday and postponed four times before being completed on Thursday.
South Granville and Whiteville were originally postponed from Friday to Monday, but Monday’s game was stopped in the first inning due to rain, so the two teams tried to play Tuesday at Carrboro because South Granville’s field was unplayable. The two were unable to play at Carrboro as another storm cloud rolled through, so the game was moved to Wednesday at Louisburg College. Both teams arrived at Louisburg, which had a tarp covering the whole infield, but another well-timed downpour left the umpires with no decision but to postpone again.
On Thursday, they met about halfway, at Fuquay-Varina, where the game was finally completed.
No. 1 South Granville will now have two days to play three games against No. 2 North Johnston, with Game 1 at North Johnston on Friday at 6 p.m. and Game 2 at South Granville on Saturday at 2 p.m. (Game 3, if necessary, would follow).
▪ Meanwhile, the East final series is all done after No. 2 Louisburg swept No. 4 Camden County. Game 2 featured a 4-0 shutout by Warriors pitcher Laine Barefoot and Game 1 was an 11-inning 2-1 on a walk-off solo home run by Abigail Fagan.
▪ After dropping Game 1 of the 4A East final series 7-3, No. 2 South Central heads to No. 8 Jack Britt on Friday.
One after another, seemingly without end, Fuquay-Varina and Leesville Road traded penalty kicks to decide the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A girls soccer East final on Tuesday.
Fuquay's first PK was stopped.
The next seven were not.
And Fuquay-Varina is back in the state title game for the second time in program history, and first since 1999. The Bengals and Pride were tied 2-2 after regulation, a 20-minute overtime split into two halves and two five-minute golden goal periods before Fuquay defeated Leesville 7-6 on PKs.
Fuquay is now 13 of 14 on PKs in the playoffs, having needed them to defeat Wilmington's Laney High in the third round.
"The girls, I think mentally, were there," coach Nick Acosta said. "We're going to work. We're going to fight. Sometimes, maybe we're not the best technically, but our girls are going to give you their best every time.
The Bengals (17-4-2) took a 1-0 lead into halftime after a 20th minute corner kick from Trinity Davis crossed the goal mouth after deflecting off a player from Leesville Road (20-2-1).
Leesville leveled the match in the 50th minute as Reagan Norvell was the first to get to rebound following Jordin Mosley's 25-yard strike that hit the crossbar. Like Fuquay's first goal, it too barely crossed the goal mouth before being cleared away.
Just two minutes later, Fuquay scored a stunner. Grace Naylor sent a long ball from near midfield into the box, where only Katelyn Laux and one defender were waiting. Laux won the ball in midair and headed it into goal for a 2-1 lead.
Leesville's drew even in the 66th minute as Kristy Campbell drew a penalty as the Fuquay-Varina goalkeeper was given a yellow card for tripping in the box. Jordin Mosley drilled the penalty kick.
"I can't fault my girls in any way," coach Paul Dinkenor said. "We played well, we practiced superbly and they were a great team to be with. I just feel back for my seniors that we're not moving on."
The Bengals will meet Myers Park on Saturday at 11 a.m. at N.C. State in the 4A championship.
▪ In the 4A West, Pinecrest's best postseason run ended with a 2-1 loss in Charlotte to Myers Park High. The host No. 1 Mustangs (21-0-1) scored two second half goals to lead 2-0 before the No. 3 Patriots (25-2-3) answered in the 59th minute on a 30-yard blast by Natalie Sabiston to make it interesting.
“It definitely helps making the (West) final and we made history at our school,” said Pinecrest senior defender Kelly Clark. “Just being part of that is something I can tell my kids in the future.”
“I thought we dominated," said Patriots coach Corey Rice. "I thought there were opportunities where balls bounced the right way; and Myers Park did a good job of taking advantage of those opportunities, and they finished well,”
▪ Chapel Hill is going back to the state championship for the first time since 2014 after edging Jacksonville in overtime, 2-1.
The Tigers fell behind with 30 minutes to go — it was just the second goal they've allowed all year — but scored with just 5 minutes and 17 seconds left in regulation on a long kick that deflected off a Jacksonville player and into the net to force the extra period.
No. 2 Chapel Hill (18-1-1) scored in the first of two mandatory 10-minute halves of overtime when Avery Look put the Tigers up, for the first time on the night, for good.
The Tigers will play Cox Mill of Concord on Saturday at 8 p.m. at N.C. State in the 3A championship.
▪ The three-time defending 2A state champion Carrboro Jaguars finished just short of reaching the title game for a fourth straight season. Carrboro fell 4-0 to First Flight High in Kill Devil Hills on Tuesday. The Jaguars end this season 17-6 overall.
▪ Franklin Academy’s girls soccer players drained their rain-soaked home field by hand with plastic cups and then the Patriots scooped up a 5-3 victory over Raleigh Charter Tuesday in the NCHSAA 1A girls soccer East final.
Franklin Academy started quickly with leads of 3-0 and then 4-1 at halftime. Once Raleigh Charter trimmed the deficit to 4-2 midway through the second half, freshman Grayson Kelly added an insurance goal for a 5-2 lead with 18:15 to play. Kelly and Ashlyn Stephan scored two goals each and Kennedy Capps added one for the Patriots. Raleigh Charter's Emery Hill, Serena Spitz and Emma Casey scored once each.
"It rained just before we played so we had to pick up everything, all the rain, with (plastic) cups by ourselves," said Grayson Kelly, who, like her team, left the field in a mud-splattered all-white uniforms.
The Patriots will play Union Academy on Saturday at 8 p.m. at N.C. State in the 1A championship.
NCISAA 2A baseball
Faith Christian of Rocky Mount repeated its state championship with a 7-5 win in a winner-take-all title game against Greensboro's Caldwell Academy. The game, originally scheduled as a three-game series at Gaston Day, was started Monday at North Raleigh Christian and was completed at Faith Christian (20-7) on Tuesday.