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BaseballBladen County survived a last-inning Columbus County rally to claim a 10-9 victory Tuesday night in the District 2 Coach-Pitch Tournament at Tabor City that secured a berth in the North Carolina State Coach-Pitch Tournament for the winners.

Coach Joseph Russ’ Bladen County squad advances to the District 2 Championship Game Wednesday at 7 p.m. against unbeaten Whiteville, but Whiteville Dixie Youth Baseball does not allow their Coach-Pitch teams to play in the State tourney, so Bladen County will receive the district’s state berth.

Bladen County took a 10-5 lead into the bottom of the sixth inning, but Columbus rallied for 4 runs. Jonah Bryan caught a fly ball in right-field for the second out, and pitcher Hunter Hester snared a grounder up the middle and fired to first-baseman Conner Monroe for the final out.

“Jonah made a big catch,” said Coach Russ. “That changed the momentum in the inning.”

Aiden Russ and Cade Allen belted singles in the Bladen first inning, and Monroe slammed a double to drive them in. Neveah Singletary knocked in Monroe with a single as Bladen County jumped ahead 3-0.

Columbus trimmed the margin to 3-1, but Bryan and Russ cracked singles in the third inning and raced home when Allen hammered a triple for a 5-1 lead.

Malikah Moore laced a fourth inning single and scored another Bladen run, but Columbus narrowed the gap to 6-5 with 4 runs in the home half of the fourth.

Joshua Strickland and Bryan started the Bladen fifth inning with singles, and Russ walloped a triple to drive them in. Allen blasted a 2-run homer that scored Russ and stretched the Bladen lead to 10-5.

Allen and Russ both batted a perfect 3-3. Allen homered, tripled and drove in 4 runs. Russ tripled and drove in 2 runs. Bryan and Monroe both finished 2-3 at the plate. Monroe doubled and drove in 2 runs.

Singletary, Richard Severine, Strickland and Chason Harris added one hit each for the winners.

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