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By John Clark

BEAUFORT – East Carteret’s Mariners pulled away with a pair of 3-run innings in their final 2 at-bats and defeated West Bladen 8-1 Friday night in the 2nd round of the NCHSAA 2-A baseball playoffs.

The Knights grabbed an early lead and left 2 more runners in scoring position early then saw the Mariners tie the game with an unearned run on a couple of errors and a sacrifice fly in the 3rd inning.

“We started thinking too much instead of just playing,” said West Bladen Coach Wade Pait. “You’ve got to have a short-term memory and be able to put the mistakes behind you. I am proud of this team.” The Knights finished their season with a 14-9 record.

Sophomore Garrett Dunham beat out an infield hit, stole 2nd base then raced home when sophomore Cade Allen hammered a double to the right-center field fence to put the Knights on top 1-0 in the 1st inning.

Knight starting pitcher Bryce Fuller pitched around an error and a balk in the 2nd inning by striking out 2 batters and retiring another on a ground-out.

Dunham blasted a triple to deep center field in the 3rd inning, but the Mariners intentionally walked Allen and worked out of trouble with a foul pop and a ground-out.

East Carteret took the lead 2-1 in the 4th when Alex Doans beat out an infield hit, stole 2nd base and scored when Darren Piner dumped a single into right-center field.

Mariner pitcher Tanner Goodwin was hit by a pitch to begin a 3-run 5th inning that stretched the lead to 5-1. Singles by Eli Jenkins, Jacob Nelson and Piner plus Brady Nelson’s RBI double plated the 3 runs. The Knights did throw Brady Nelson out at 3rd base on his double to right, and a fly-out ended the inning.

Senior Hunter Smith reached on a passed 3rd strike, and junior Andre Moore was hit by a pitch in the West 6th inning, but Goodwin worked out of the jam with a pair of strikeouts.

Walks to Jackson Hardy and Goodwin, Jenkins’ RBI single, Jacob Nelson’s RBI double, and Brody Nelson’s sacrifice fly resulted in 3 more Mariner runs in the 6th. Knight center fielder Hezekiah Adams fired a strike to catcher Hunter Elks who tagged out Brady Doans, the courtesy runner for Goodwin, and cut off 1 run at the plate.

Junior Jordan Hester smoked a single to center field to start the Knight 7th inning, and junior Will Durden laced a single to right field. However a fly-out and a strike-out ended the game.

Dunham batted 2-for-4 with a triple and a run scored to lead the Knight hitters. Allen slugged the RBI double. Jordan Hester, Will Durden and Adams contributed 1 hit each to the West attack.

Fuller pitched 4.1 innings and allowed 4 runs – 3 earned – on 3 hits, walked none and struck out 6. Dunham worked 0.2 innings of relief and allowed 2 runs on 3 hits and 3 walks. Senior Garrison Carr pitched 1 inning and allowed 2 runs on 3 hits.

Goodwin pitched a complete game for the Mariners and allowed 1 run on 6 hits and 2 walks while striking out 7.

Jenkins batted 2-for-3 with 2 RBIs and 2 runs scored. Jordan Nelson was 2-for-4 with a double, 2 RBIs and a run scored. Piner finished 2-for-3 with an RBI. Brody Nelson doubled and had 2 RBIs.

The Mariners improved to 17-8 and will travel to Midway for their 3rd round game.

West Bladen   100 000 0 — 1-6-3
East Carteret  001 133  x — 8-9-0

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