South Granville and Washington’s opening game of the N.C. High School Athletic Association 2A East regional championship series went on so long, the mosquitoes that had pestered fans and players alike faded into the night long before the finish.
Yet on a day when the temperature was over 90 degrees at first pitch, it was Savannah Tilley who had the biggest bite.
Tilley laced a two-out, 1-2 fastball over the left field wall for a game-winning homer as South Granville defeated Washington 5-4 in 11 innings at Vikings Softball Field on Wednesday night. The Vikings captured the opening game of the best-of-3 series. Game 2 is at Washington on Friday.
With a win, the Vikings (23-1) will earn their 3rd trip to the NCHSAA 2A title series in four years. They captured their eighth state championship last year.
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“I wasn’t expecting anything,” said Tilley. “It was just see the ball, hit the ball. That’s what I’ve always been taught. I’ve never hit one that big before in a game.”
Washington led 4-2 in the seventh, two outs away from going back to the coast with a 1-0 lead when Vikings catcher Megan White lofted a two-run homer to right field to tie the game. It was White’s third homer of the year.
“I just wanted to get a base hit,” said White. “I just hit it hard enough at the right moment and it went out.”
The Pam Pack (19-7) appeared to have the game in hand after scoring two runs in the top of the seventh. With two out, Chrissy McKissick reached on an error. Meghan Moore singled to center field.
McKissick was awarded home plate after the South Granville center fielder tried to throw her out at third, only to have the ball go into the standing-room-only crowd lined against the third-base line fence. With the Pam Pack ahead 3-2, Moore scored when a grounder hit by Jordan Pierce went over the arm of Vikings shortstop Hunter Mundy.
Trailing 2-0 going into the sixth, the Pam Pack evened the game, scoring two runs on back-to-back sacrifice bunts. Moore singled to center, then Pierce was hit by a pitch. Left fielder Jada Loge attempted to bunt the runners over, but the throw from Vikings pitcher Miranda Barker went wide of first base.
That led to Moore scoring the opening Washington run by slapping home plate with both hands while White tried to tag her out. Pierce tied the game after right fielder Mary Dixon laid down another bunt, which turned into another South Granville error at first base.
With runners at the corners and one out, Barker got out of the inning without any further damage by catching an infield pop up and forcing a ground out to third.
“I think (this win) is going to catapult us into a better game on Friday,” said White. “Now that we have a win, we’re more comfortable with ourselves and we don’t have the pressure that it could be our last game.”
South Granville pieced together the opening run in the first when Tilley walked, Brianne Coleman sacrificed her to second and Mundy singled her home.
The lead grew when Miranda Barker doubled to open the Vikings fourth. Madison Boyd moved Barker over to second with a bunt, then McKenzie Coley sent an RBI single to left and South Granville led 2-0.
Barker finished with 13 strikeouts.