East Bladen’s Eagles, winners of 5 straight games and 10 of their last 11, face their most formidable challenge Tuesday night when Randleman’s Tigers visit Russell Priest Field.
Coach Jake Smith’s Tigers have rolled through their 3 Class 2A playoff games with victories over Reidsville (17-0), Southwest Onslow (10-0) and First Flight (10-1).
Junior catcher Brooks Bannon slugged 2 home runs and drove in 5 runs in the win over Reidsville. Seniors Owen Strickland and Andrew Cox hammered 2-run doubles in the win. Cox and junior Gus Shelton combined on a 3-hit, 5-inning shutout.
Junior Trey Way walloped a pair of 2-run homers in the Tigers win over Southwest Onslow. Junior Braylen Hayes clubbed a 3-run homer, and sophomore Hunter Atkins was 2-3. Junior Ryan White hurled a 3-hit shutout with 6 strikeouts in 5 innings.
A 7-run 4th inning at Kill Devil Hills Saturday propelled the Tigers to the win over First Flight. Bannon slammed a 2-run homer, and Shelton smashed a solo homer. Freshman lefty Drake Purvis struck out 8 and allowed 3 hits and a run in his 3.1 innings on the hill. Cox threw 2.2 no-hit innings of relief, and Shelton finished up.
Senior Zach Meares fired a 2-hit shutout and struck out 9 as East Bladen blanked North Lenoir 5-0 Saturday night. Meares raised his pitching record to 7-0, lowered his earned run average to 0.16 and has now struck out 79 batters in 44 innings. However, due to NCHSAA pitch-count rules Meares cannot pitch Tuesday night.
Senior Lefredrick Wooten claimed the pitching victory in a 13-3 win over North Pitt, owns a 2.69 ERA and has struck out 30 batters in 26 innings. Sophomore Coleman Tatum finished up the win over North Pitt and is 1-0 with a 2.00 ERA.
Wooten’s 2-for-3 performance against North Lenoir raised his batting average to .382 with a team-high 21 hits, 16 runs scored, 11 RBIs, 6 doubles and 4 triples. Senior first baseman Jacob Priest leads the Eagle hitters with a .412 average, a team-high 21 hits, 13 runs scored and 10 RBIs.
Meares is also hitting .382 with a team-high 21 hits, 16 runs scored, a team-high 14 RBIs, 3 doubles, 3 triples and a home run. Senior Rasean McKoy is batting .375 with 18 hits, 12 RBIs, 11 runs scored and a team-high 11 stolen bases.
Senior Drew Sholar has raised his average to .318 with 13 RBIs, 13 runs scored, 2 doubles and a triple. Sophomore Evan Pait owns a .316 average with 12 hits, 8 RBIs, 8 runs scored, a double and a triple. Senior catcher Brady Hollingsworth bats .310 with 13 hits, 13 RBIs, 3 doubles and a home run.
Junior Raymond Autry has lifted his average to .297 with 11 hits and 8 RBIs. Junior Ethan Johnson has 10 hits, 9 RBIs and a team-high 22 runs scored.
Game time Tuesday is 7 p.m.