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Conley drops game one in extras, 3-2

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Eastern Alamance players celebrate as they win against D.H. Conley on May 21, 2019. (Molly Urbina/The Daily Reflector)

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By Jake Keator
The Daily Reflector

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Just four days after advancing to the 3-A East Regional finals thanks to a 3-2 walk-off win over Southern Alamance, the top seeded D.H. Conley softball team found itself on the opposite end of the same score after eight innings Tuesday against No. 2 Eastern Alamance.

The Conley loss gave the Eagles a 1-0 advantage in the best-of-three series, which will resume Thursday in Mebane. 

The two sides continually matched one another, thanks to outstanding pitching by Conley sophomore N.C. State commit Lauren Wiles and Eastern Alamance pitcher and freshman UNC commit Kenna Raye Dark.

Down 2-1 in the bottom of the seventh inning, Anna Sawyer (2-for-4, R, 2B, SB) hit a stand-up double to immediately put the Vikings in position to tie the game. Following a sacrifice bunt by Lexi Phillips and a hit from Carson Fleming, Maggie Craig stepped into the box looking to even the score.

Craig launched a sacrifice fly, sending Fleming sprinting for home plate. She crossed the plate, much to the dismay of onlooking Eagles fans who cried foul, claiming Fleming left the bag early. EA head coach Danny Way was also displeased, prompting the umpires to then huddle and eventually confirm the call. Fans and Way were still unsatisfied, as Dark threw the ball to third in an appeal to reverse the call. Umps then informed the Eagles the appeal had already been used and confirmed Fleming’s tying score.

Eastern Alamance then took to the plate in the top of the eighth, where Madelyn Lawson’s double looked eerily similar to Fleming’s just half an inning prior. Lawson then scored off an RBI single from Haley Batista, which proved to be the winning run.

Wiles pitched seven innings, giving up two runs and three hits while recording nine strikeouts. Freshman Trinity Nichols had a strong night at the plate, scoring a run and stealing a base.

Dark pitched the complete game, racking up 11 strikeouts. She will be unable to pitch for the remainder of the series. 

“They are a good team,” Conley head coach Wayne Deans said. “There’s a reason their ranked top three in the state, not just in 3-A, but third overall in the state. We’re ranked in the top five or six, so it’s just two really good teams playing and it just came down to execution.” 

Deans added that the Eagles executed better later in the game in clutch situations, while Conley stranded six runners on base. 

“We stranded way too many baserunners,” Deans said. “We popped up the ball too many times and I think bunting-wise we were not very focused laying down the bunts. I think we certainly can be a lot better than what we showed in those areas, but overall we made some great plays defensively. We had our chances. We just couldn't finish.”

Conley will now prepare for the nearly two-and-a-half-hour drive Thursday to Mebane, and Deans sees a new element coming into play for the remainder of the series. 

“It’s just a war of attrition,” Deans said. “We’ve got to figure out how to conserve our energy and hopefully have something for Thursday. If we’re able to pull it out, then it’s going to come down to who has any gas left in the tank on Friday, because there’s really no turnaround time for the finale.”

Thursday’s game is scheduled for a 7 p.m. start time. If DHC wins that game, the Vikings will then return to Greenville for a winner-take-all final Friday night.

Contact Jake Keator at jkeator@reflector.com, 252-329-9594 and follow @JakeKeatorDR on Twitter.

BASEBALL

New Hanover 5, D.H. Conley 0

In his final home start, senior lefty Blake Walston tossed a no-hitter and powered No. 1 New Hanover (25-1) to a 5-0 victory over No. 2 D.H. Conley (25-3) in Game One of the 3-A East Regional final on Tuesday night in Wilmington.

Walston struck out nine batters, and the Vikings only produced two base runners by earning a walk in the fifth and reaching on an error in the seventh.

Game Two is Thursday at Conley.

After the game, Walston tossed his glove and let out a scream in jubilation. Whether it was for the no-hitter or getting a crucial win in Game 1, the celebration was deserved.

"I've only thrown two no-hitters this year, which is pretty good," Walston said. "Those don't come around very often."

The N.C. State commit kept the Vikings' hitters off-balance with his fastball and by locating his breaking ball. All of his run-support came in the bottom of the fourth.

That's when the Wildcats scored five runs on just two hits, capitalizing on a critical error by D.H. Conley pitcher Matthew Matthijs. After the first two runners reached base, David MacCallum attempted a sacrifice bunt, but Matthijs couldn't control his throw to fist and both base runners scored to give New Hanover a 2-0 lead.

The Wildcats added another on an RBI single by Alec Cortner and an RBI triple by Jac Croom. Walston himself punched a sacrifice fly to left field for the final run of the inning and the game.

It was the second consecutive game New Hanover made a team pay dearly for fielding miscues. The Wildcats scored five runs on three errors in one inning against Terry Sanford Friday night.

"We live off those," Cortner said. "When they make an error we always capitalize off of it, and do what we did (against Conley)."

Aside from the struggles in the fourth, Matthijs pitched well for the Vikings, going four innings and giving up just five hits. Four of the five runs ended up earned, but the freshman UNC commit stayed under the 76-pitch mark and would be available if the series gets to a Game 3 on Saturday.

"Blake Walston, I coached him last summer, and he's amazing," D.H. Conley coach Jason Mills said. "We showed our youth a little bit with these errors, but we're not disappointed about the result tonight. We knew what we were running into."

It sets up a potentially intriguing pitching matchup between New Hanover's Alex Sniffen (8-0, 0.26 ERA) and D.H. Conley's Robbie O'Neal (4-0, 2.65) on Thursday.

– Jackson Fuller, (Wilmington) Star-News

 

LEGION BASEBALL
Post 39 7, North Raleigh 3 

A smaller than normal Post 39 squad won its season opener Tuesday over North Raleigh at Pitt Community College. 

Anthony Saieed (2-for-4, RBI), Wade Jarman (2-for-3, RBI) and Shane Rademacher (2-for-4, 2 RBIs) led the way for Post 39. 

Shade Bland picked up the win from the mound, giving up three hits, no runs, one walk and striking out five batters.

Post 39 (1-0) will host Jacksonville Thursday at 7 p.m. at PCC.

 

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