PITTSBORO — It looked like the perfect upset in the making as the Corinth Holders baseball team opened with four hits and as many runs in the first inning against Northwood Tuesday.
But untimely errors and one big swing of the bat paved the way for the Chargers to live up to their name and rally past the Pirates for an 8-6 win and a ticket to the third round of the 2A state baseball playoffs.
Pirates coach Jeff Parker said making it to the second round in Corinth Holders’ first appearance in the state playoffs was a good experience for his young team.
“We started two years ago with ninth and 10th graders,” Parker said. “Last year we didn’t have a senior. This year we only had four seniors with three starting, so we’ll be ready to go next year.”
Northwood (21-5, Carolina 12 2A No. 1 seed) got its big hit in the bottom of the sixth, a frame the Chargers entered trailing 6-4. After an infield error by the Pirates allowed Jonathan McKee to cross the plate and pull his team within one run, Andrew Webster yanked a home run over the fence in left field to score the final three runs of the game.
“He’s a fastball hitter and we knew it,” Parker said of Webster. “When you’re up 6-5 and he hits a three-run bomb, and it’s the bottom of the sixth, you’re thinking ‘Here we go.’”
Northwood coach Rick Parks said the game was a bit of an emotional roller coaster, but said he expected nothing less from Webster, a senior impact player for the Chargers.
“Andrew Webster – a four-year starter for Northwood – came up big,” Parks said. “It was a big-time play by a big-time player. We hope to end on a high note and tonight we did.”
Parker pointed to his team’s two errors in the fourth inning – not Webster’s home run – as the deciding factor in the game. An overthrow to third base allowed Chargers Justin King and Ross Cooper to score, cutting the deficit to 4-2.
Corinth Holders (17-8, Northern Carolina 2A No. 3 seed) went on to allow a third unearned run in the fourth inning.
“The first thing I thought about (when seeing Webster’s home run) was man, if we had those three runs back now it’d be a new ball game,” Parker said. “There’s errors and then there’s costly errors. Tonight we had costly errors.
“In this type of game, you can’t make five errors and expect to advance.”
The Pirates batted clean through their lineup in the first inning, prompting Northwood to pull Steve Strong off the mound in favor of Garrett Scott before the Chargers ever produced an out.
Oakley Wallrich, who worked like a fly catcher on defense in the Pirates outfield in the early innings, made the first contribution to the scoreboard with a single that scored Jacob Rowe in the top of the first. Jake Lewis, Adam Evans and Sam Berman produced Corinth Holders’ other RBIs of the frame.
The Pirates’ final two runs came in the fifth, when Wallrich added another RBI, scoring Brock Waynik, and Lewis singled to score Dakota Amant.
Amant, a sophomore, started for Corinth Holders on the mound and allowed one hit and walked one in the first three innings. Senior Shane Mulcahy relieved Amant and Berman, a junior, closed for the Pirates.
“The lefty starting, Amant, I thought he did a real good job challenging our hitters and being a crafty left-handed pitcher,” Parks said. “They really put us to the edge. We were at the breaking point tonight and we found a way.”