LAURINBURG — Dylan Ward had already taken a few steps away from the mound and towards the Scotland dugout by the time the home plate umpire called the strike that Ward knew was coming for his ninth strikeout of the game.
Ward threw a complete game shutout against the Purnell Swett Rams, allowing just three hits and walking three batters. His teammates took care of the run support. Sam Gray hit a two-run home run in the second inning to put the Scots ahead and the Scots added two more in the fourth inning to cruise to a 4-0 win and set up a Southeastern Conference semifinal game against Richmond.
“We just didn’t hit the baseball. It was a very well played baseball game. They didn’t hit it a whole lot, but they hit it with runners in scoring position to score their runs,” said Purnell Swett coach Bryan McDonald.
The Rams (14-7) will now wait until playoff brackets are released Saturday to see if their season will continue. McDonald said he hopes the selection committee will reward his team with one of the four wildcard slots up for grabs in the East.
“We hope the selection committee will look at the fact that we are 14-7 overall… I hope our season isn’t over yet, but we’re at the mercy of the committee,” McDonald said.
After a scoreless opening inning, Gray put the Scots ahead with his blast to right center field that scored himself and Tripp McDonald. Then Cross Holfert scored from third on a hit-and-run in the fourth inning. Gray hit to the gap between first and second base and was thrown out at first, but Holfert reached home safely.
The Scots added their fourth run when Donte Green hit a sacrifice field to left field, allowing McDonald to score.
In Tuesday’s other SEC quarterfinal game, Lumberton got an efficient pitching performance from Daniel Oxendine to beat Hoke 7-2.
Oxendine pounded the strike zone and had a no-hitter going until the seventh inning, when Hoke had three hits and two runs.
He finished with 74 pitches in the complete game, including two seven-pitch innings, while striking out seven.
“He was in the strike zone, had his four seam and two seam fastball working and he threw it right at them,” Lumberton coach Paul Hodges said. “He did a fantastic job.”
The Pirates were led at the plate by Bryan Carpenter, who went 2-for-4 with a double. Oxendine also had a double and two runs batted in. Travis Suggs finished 1-for-2 with a triple.
The Pirates play at Pinecrest tonight in the semifinals, which will determine the conference’s No. 2 playoff seed, Hodges said. Justice Sampson will have the start.
South Columbus beat Red Springs 7-4 in the Three Rivers baseball tournament.
In the Southeastern Conference softball tournament, Purnell Swett went on a late rally to beat Lumberton 15-8. The Rams will play at Richmond tonight at 7 p.m. in the conference semifinals. In the Three Rivers softball tournament, East Columbus beat Red Springs 15-5 and Fairmont lost 5-0 to South Robeson.
LHS, Pinecrest win semifinal games
LUMBERTON — The Lumberton soccer team set up a third game against Pinecrest on Thursday and will play the Patriots at home Thursday in the SEC tournament championship match.
The Pirates beat Scotland 7-2 on Tuesday in the semifinals, getting three goals from Michaela Nash, two from Madi Britt and two from Chloe Locklear. Britt had two assists and Nash, Summer Martin and Peyton Singleton also had one assist each.