FAIRMONT — The Fairmont and Midway baseball teams both put runners in scoring position on Friday.
Between the two teams, 11 players made it to second and third, and only one actually made it home.
It left Midway coach Jason Fussell something thankful as his team walked off the field at Fairmont from with a 1-0 win in the second round of the NCHSAA Class 2A state playoffs.
“We ended up being in the right situation. Our guys got a hit, made a play happen,” Fussell said. “They had the right situation too, we just made the play.”
It ended the season at for the Golden Tornadoes (24-4) for the second straight year. The South Robeson softball team also lost Friday, falling 5-1 to Granville Central, marking the final day of baseball and softball season for the county.
Fairmont sophomore Cole Lovin threw a complete game and allowed only five hits, an effort matched by Raiders sophomore Dylan Hardison, who threw a complete-game two hitter and stranded four Fairmont runners in scoring position.
“Hitting and pitching’s the name of the game,” said Fairmont coach Sandy Thorndyke. “Both pitchers did a heck of a job, we just didn’t hit the ball. Neither team hit it real well and one unearned run beats you 1-0, but 24-4, conference champions, I’ll take that every year.”
The final at-bat, a strikeout by Michael Simmons, left the Fairmont crowd eerily silent as he walked back to the dugout, his hand covering his mouth as the Raiders celebrated on the field directly directly behind him.
With limited offense from both teams, both tried to utilize small ball to manufacture runs. The only run that score came in the fifth inning.
Drake Strickland singled to lead off, then reached third when the next batter reached on an error. Taylor Calcutt hit a sacrifice fly to center two batters later, scoring Strickland. Lovin then struck out the final batter.
The other five innings that Lovin allowed a runner to reach scoring position, he made it through without a run.
Fairmont had chances, getting runners onto third twice. With two outs in the second, the Golden Tornadoes had two batters hit by pitches to load the bases before Jacoby Oxendine struck out to end the inning.
In the fifth, Julius Caulder hit a leadoff double and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt. Oxendine then struck out for the second out and a flyout by Ryan Mayers ended the inning.
“We didn’t execute, didn’t get them in. Maybe next time, you never know,” Thorndyke said.
Gage Hardin had Fairmont’s only other hit and Lovin finished the game with nine strikeouts.
Thorndyke noted that Fairmont expected a tough challenge going into the playoffs. Midway, the defending 1A state runnerup, will play the winner of today’s game between North Brunswick and West Bladen. North Brunswick eliminated Fairmont from the playoffs last year and was the 2A runnerup.
“Three good teams in the same bracket, that’s the way it falls sometimes,” he said.
Sports Editor Scott Schlaufman can be reached at 910-272-6111 or on Twitter @ScottySchlauf.