A banner campaign that included a Southeastern Conference regular-season and tournament championship was subdued without fireworks Wednesday in Pembroke as Gower faced one over the minimum in five innings of work during a contest that was resumed in the top of the third inning following a weather postponement the previous evening.
“We’re just one of the many teams who are going to have their hearts broken before the state championship,” Swett coach James Graves said after a 2-0 loss. “I wished we could’ve gone a little longer, but it’s the playoffs and everybody wants to win.”
Gower ran her scoreless innings streak to 28 with a nasty riseball and changeup that kept the Lady Rams off-balance. She finished with 10 strikeouts and allowed a single Cheyene Lowery in the fifth. In two playoff games, Swett mustered two base hits after hitting almost .350 in the regular season.
“She got behind in the count in yesterday’s game but she was on today,” Graves said. “She throws about as well as anybody we’ve seen this year.”
Alexis Locklear held serve from the circle for the Lady Rams in the circle but two errors in the fourth led to both of West Johnston’s runs. Mo Dial bobbled a grounder at third and Locklear threw a ball into the dirt at second as the Wildcats took a commanding lead in a contest where runs came at a premium.
Prior to the postgame prayer on the infield, a ritual performed after every game, Graves briefly recapped his team’s successful season and let his players know of his appreciation of their hard work. The Lady Rams finished with 19 wins and six losses, highlighted by a perfect 7-0 mark against teams within Robeson County.
“This is all about the school and the kids,” Graves said. “We improved game-by-game and you love seeing that as a coach.”
Farmville Central ousts Fairmont
FAIRMONT — Fairmont’s offense, inconsistent at times this season, didn’t have an answer for Farmville Central’s Justin Taylor and Jon Sherman in the second round of the state 2A playoffs.
Taylor, an East Carolina signee and potential mid-round MLB draft pick, pitched three innings of no-hit ball Tuesday while Sherman closed the deal Wednesday night. The hurlers combined for a no-hitter and used a two-run double late in the game to eliminate the Golden Tornadoes, 2-0.
Fairmont coach Sandy Thorndyke went on a tirade in the sixth after Farmville Central roped down the left field line. The home plate umpire ruled the ball fair, but Thorndyke vehemently disagreed. After covering the plate with dirt twice, Thorndyke returned to the dugout.
The Golden Tornadoes had the tying run at the plate in the bottom of the sixth and seventh, but couldn’t find a hole against Sherman.
Fairmont finishes its season at 19-6.
Reach Staff writer Brad Crawford at 910-272-6119 or at email@example.com