WENDELL — East Wake’s Aaron Platts scored from third on a dropped fly ball to left field to cap a wild season finale over visiting rival Knightdale, 5-4, in eight innings Thursday night.
Platts pinch ran for Austin Dickens, who was hit by a pitch to start the bottom half of the inning. Platts then raced from first to an unmanned third base on a sacrifice bunt toward first. Jalen Neal’s fly ball to left hit off the glove of the left fielder, who hurried to try and throw out the tagging Platts.
East Wake (10-12, 7-7 Greater Neuse River 4A) scored in the bottom of the seventh to tie the game after watching a 3-1 lead dwindle starting in the fifth inning.
“If you wanted a heated rivalry, everybody got what they paid for,” East Wake coach Derek Matthews said with chagrin.
The game had a rivalry feel with a bipartisan crowd that escalated with every hit.
East Wake jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first when Cody Alphin’s RBI single to center got by the center fielder and went to the fence. Alphin raced all the way home to score on the three base error.
Knightdale answered in the second inning. Francis Silvestre doubled to left center, then later in the inning scored on a double steal when the return throw home from second was late.
East Wake tacked on one more run in the third after Tucker Denton’s fly ball to left center fell between the outfielders, who had some miscommunication. Denton later scored on a single by Eric Pittard for the 3-1 lead.
“Their first three runs were scored on errors,” Knightdale coach Andrew Vagilo said. “You give them gifts when you’re playing a pretty talented team, they’re going to take advantage of those gifts.”
The Knights (7-13, 2-10) scratched out a second run in the fifth on a Jonathan Sierra RBI single.
Knightdale tied the game in the sixth. Silvestre skied a pop up behind second base that was lost in the twilight sky. The ball fell 10 feet from the closest player and Silvestre ended up on second. He moved to third when Logan Anderson’s ground ball was booted. Silvestre was thrown out at home on a failed squeeze attempt, but Anderson scored with two outs on a wild pitch.
“We were scrappy, but we didn’t execute in a couple situations,” Vagilo said.
The Knights scored the go-ahead run in the top of the seventh as Grant Peters made it home from third base on a grounder hit to third, but overthrown to home plate.
In the bottom of the seventh, East Wake’s Coley Mizell reached on a passed ball strikeout. He then stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Pittard hit a fly ball down the left field line the Knights allowed to drop in fair, hoping it would land foul – a tough decision, but Mizell may have been able to score on a sacrifice fly even if the ball was caught.
“I’m glad to see the seniors get the hits down the line to tie and win the game,” Matthews said.
Overshadowed in the game was the performance by both starting pitchers.
Paschal Ammons went six innings striking out 10 for East Wake. Jake Deshields went the distance for Knightdale striking out eight, including a stretch of six in a row in the later innings. Alphin took over in the seventh for East Wake and earned the win.
“I thought Ammons did a very good job, especially in the first couple of innings,” Vaglio said of his opposing pitcher. “I think we finally got (Deshields) over the hump tonight.
“He’s been good for us all year and really strong through five or six innings, but tonight he gave us eight innings and 119 pitches.”