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NCHSAA Class 2A Baseball Playoffs: East Bladen 4, Midway 2 (8 innings)

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DUNN – Seniors Greyson Heustess and Dan Tatum knocked in the deciding runs in the eighth inning as East Bladen upset top-seeded Midway 4-2 Friday night in the second round of the NCHSAA Class 2A baseball playoffs.

With the score knotted 2-2, sophomore Lefrederick Wooten reached base on an error to begin the Eagle eighth inning, and sophomore Brady Hollingsworth’s sacrifice bunt advanced Wooten to second base.

Heustess smashed a grounder through the right side that scored Wooten with the go-ahead run. Heustess stole second base and raced home when Tatum ripped a single to left field for a 4-2 lead.

Pitcher Chandler Williford led off the Raider eighth with a single, but was gunned down attempting to steal second base by Hollingsworth, the Eagle catcher. Cameron Calcutt followed with a single, and Eli Culbreth reached base on an error.

Shortstop Zach Meares fielded Drew Matthews’ grounder, stepped on second base and fired to first baseman Tatum to complete the double play that ended the game.

Senior Pierce Melvin pitched the final two scoreless innings to pick up the win for East Bladen allowing a walk and three hits while striking out one. Wooten worked the first six innings on the mound for the Eagles and allowed two runs – one earned – on four hits and four walks while striking out nine batters.

Meares hammered a one-out triple to right field to ignite a two-run Eagle rally in the fourth inning. Heustess smoked a grounder through the middle that scored Meares. Tatum walked, and Heustess dashed home from second base when the Raiders attempted to turn an inning-ending double play, but senior Spencer Scott beat the throw to first.

Jaron Register walked in the Raider fifth inning, advanced on a balk and dashed home to trim the margin to 2-1 when Brayden Coats lined a single to center field.

Cameron Barefoot started the Midway sixth inning with a single, and Williford raked a single to left field. Barefoot advanced to third on Cameron Calcutt’s fielder’s choice and scored on an error to tie the game 2-2.

Heustess batted 3-for-4 with two runs batted in and two runs scored to lead the Eagle hitters. Tatum finished 2-for-3 at the plate with an RBI, and Meares batted 2-for-4 with a triple and a run scored. Wooten and senior Shy Pone added one hit each. Wooten scored a run, and Scott drove in a run.

Williford pitched all eight innings for the Raiders and allowed four runs on nine hits and a walk while striking out eight.

Coats batted 2-for-2 with an RBI to lead the Raider hitters. Williford was 2-for-3, and Carson Calcutt, Cameron Calcutt and Barefoot added one hit each.

Coach Russell Priest’s Eagles improved to 18-6 on the season and will travel to ninth-seeded N.C. School of Science & Math. The Unicorns improved to 15-1 Friday night with an 8-1 victory over Providence Grove.

Midway finished their season with a 21-2 record.