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NCHSAA Class 2A Baseball Playoffs: Washington 5, East Bladen 4

WASHINGTON – Five East Bladen errors led to four unearned runs, and a pair of pickoffs stymied the Eagle running game as Washington escaped with a 5-4 victory Friday night in the fourth round of the NCHSAA Class 2A baseball playoffs.

Pam Pack lefthander Logan Everette pitched 6.2 innings and allowed four runs – one earned – on seven hits and three walks while striking out six. However it was a pair of pickoffs with his “borderline balk” move that turned Eagle baserunners into outs in the second and third innings.

The Eagles did steal three bases in the game, but two of those were steals of third where Everette’s move to first base didn’t come into play.

Junior Gabe Barber ripped a single to center field to start the Eagle first inning then stole second and third bases and raced home on sophomore Lefrederick Wooten’s sacrifice fly for a 1-0 lead.

Wilson Peed dumped a single into right-center field to begin the Washington first, and Mason Weaver reached base on an error. Peed stole third base then stole home on the back end of a double steal with Weaver, who advanced to third when the throw to second base skipped away. Hunter Hall’s sacrifice fly plated Weaver for a 2-1 lead.

Senior Greyson Heustess reached base on a bobble by the Pam Pack third baseman, but was retired on the pickoff play for the second out of the second inning. Senior Spencer Scott belted a single to center field, senior Dan Tatum was hit by a pitch, and senior Josh McKoy walked.

Barber rapped a low bouncer that was booted by the third baseman. Scott scored, and Tatum never stopped rounding third and scored all the way from second base on the play. Josh McKoy was called out at the plate trying to score when the attempt to get Tatum got away, but the Eagles led 3-2.

Senior Shy Pone and sophomore Brady Hollingsworth cracked singles in the Eagle third inning, but another pickoff play and two fly-outs kept the score at 3-2.

Walks to Hall and Jeremiah Moore and Will Crisp’s single loaded the bases with one out in the Pam Pack fourth. Hayden Anderson’s infield hit off the pitcher scored Moore with the tying run. However, Wooten worked out of the jam with a strikeout and a forceout.

Wooten bounced a single over third, and Hollingsworth legged out an infield hit with two outd in the Eagle fifth inning, but a ground-out ended the threat.

Weaver was safe on an infield hit to start the pivotal fifth inning for Washington. The next two Washington batters reached on errors as Weaver scored. Robert Pollock lifted a sacrifice fly to left that padded the Pam Pack lead to 5-3.

Heustess beat out an infield hit to begin the Eagle sixth inning, advanced on an infield out then stole third base. Heustess darted home when a throw back to the mound from the catcher sailed over the pitcher’s head and narrowed the lead to 5-4.

A two-out walk to Wooten in the East Bladen seventh finished the night for Everette, who maxed out his pitch count. Junior Taylor Rowe recorded a one-pitch save when a fielder’s choice ended the game.

Hollingsworth batted 2-for-4 to lead the Eagle hitters. Barber, Wooten, Pone, Heustess and Scott connected for one hit each. Wooten drove in a run, and Barber, Heustess, Scott and Tatum scored one run each.

Wooten started and pitched into the fifth inning for the Eagles allowing five runs – one earned – on five hits and two walks while striking out two. Senior Pierce Melvin pitched 0.2 scoreless innings, allowing no hits and three walks. Scott relieved and worked the final 1.1 scoreless innings allowing no baserunners and striking out one.

Peed, Weaver, Crisp, J.D. Swain and Anderson had one hit each for the Pam Pack. Swain, Pollard and Hall drove in runs. Weaver scored twice, and Everette, Moore and Peed scored one run each.

Coach Russell Priest’s Eagles concluded their season with a 19-6 record. Washington advances to the Eastern 2A finals against Randleman.

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