The first inning pretty much did in Corinth Holders in Game 1 of the N.C. High School Athletic Association 3A Eastern Regional Baseball Championship Series on Tuesday night.
Getting out of the first at bat by Topsail with no damage done Friday night started the momentum shift in Corinth Holders’ way in a 2-1 victory before a packed house.
“As important as the first inning was for them Tuesday night, it was just as important for us tonight to get out of it without any damage,” said Corinth Holders coach Adam Weaver. “We learned in the opener that we could play at this level. And playing in front of this crowd tonight, it really helped us tonight.”
The series returns to Hampstead for Game 3 at 11 a.m. on Saturday, where Topsail rode a seven-run first inning to a 7-0 victory in Game 1 on Tuesday night.
There’s a Game 3 in the Western Regional Series on Saturday as well with Ledford taking on Marvin Ridge. The winners meet next weekend in the state championship series in either Burlington or Zebulon (Five County Stadium).
Even when Topsail took a 1-0 lead in the second inning on Colby Emmertz’s two-out single, scoring Chase Riker, it didn’t seem to shift the game the way of the series favorite.
Corinth Holders finally broke through in the fourth inning, its 11th inning facing Topsail pitchers before scoring.
With one out in the fourth, Will Jones reached on an infield error and Kahlil Hodge drew a walk, setting the plate for catcher Carson Sakowski. Sakowski doubled to the gap in left-center field bringing home Jones to tie the score. Hodge tried to score on the play but the relay throw home by Topsail shortstop Shane Nolan was the perfect bullet it needed to be to to Emmertz, cutting down Hodge at the plate and keeping the score tied at 1.
It didn’t stay that way for long as Alec Seaton notched his own double to deep center field, just glancing off of the glove of a racing Aaron Beach near the warning track to put Corinth Holders up 2-1.
The lead could have grown even more, but Nolan made a diving catch near second base of a Eli Dalton liner to keep a third run from scoring.
“There’s a different level of intensity when you get in an inning like that,” Sakowski said. “It carries through the whole team when a couple of guys start hitting.”
The story of the night for Topsail on defense was stellar plays and a few mess-ups on routine plays. They were charged with four errors on the night.
“It’s the way the game rolls,” said Topsail coach Steve Blake. “Sometimes you make the tough plays and the little ones trip you up.”
Corinth Holders pitchers Kody Cyr, Conner Bass and Josh Jarman held Topsail to six hits on the night.
“They got ahead in the count for most of the game and were able to consistently go to all three of their pitches for strikes,” Sakowski, the catcher, said of his battery mates. “All year, pitching has been one of our strong points. We know if we throw strikes, our guys are going to make the plays behind the mound.”
Josh Madole came within about 10 feet of forcing Game 2 to continue into the bottom of the seventh Friday night, flying out to Corinth Holders’ right fielder Tate Proctor on the warning track for the last out of the game. Madole had previously flown out to Proctor in deep right as well in his last at bat. Those two balls were pretty much the only really solid contact Topsail batters had on the ball in the final four innings.
“We knew they’d come out fighting,” Blake said. “Their pitchers threw a great game for them. They did a good job of staying away from solid contact on the ball.”
Best: 919-524-8895; @dclaybest