RED SPRINGS — The Red Springs and St. Pauls baseball teams walked away with contrasting mindsets after their season finale at Tom Cope Field on Thursday.
The Red Devils defeated the Bulldogs 13-2 by way of the 10-run rule and quickly started looking ahead to facing the top teams in the state as playoff contenders. Meanwhile, St. Pauls started to reflect on a season full of adversity and tough lessons.
“Last year was our first year missing the playoffs since I’ve been here,” Red Springs head coach Chris Howell said. “We know what that feels like. We don’t want to take it for granted this year, so hopefully we’ll come in focused next week and make a run for as long as we can.”
The Red Devils (15-9, 11-7 TRC) took advantage of a strong outing on the mound by Darren Bowen, who logged 11 strikeouts in four innings.
“My fastball wasn’t working early on. I had to rely on my curveball, and luckily I got them swinging and missing,” Bowen said.
Four players collected two hits for Red Springs. Jaylen Mack had three RBIs and scored two runs.
Isaac Garner went 2-for-3 at the plate for St. Pauls. His two-RBI single in the second inning plated the only runs of the night for the Bulldogs (8-14, 6-12), who ended their season with their third consecutive loss.
“We had a few bad innings. We had one really bad inning,” St. Pauls head coach Matthew Hunt said. “We don’t have a choice but to get better. That’s who I am. I’m still the interim coach here, so if they want me to be the (full-time) head coach, those kids are going to get better.”
After Garner’s hit gave St. Pauls a 2-1 lead, the Red Devil offense erupted for nine runs in the bottom of the second inning.
Jayshawn Carthen drew a walk to load the bases with two outs. Mack then hit a single to bring home two runs.
St. Pauls committed an error on a throw to home plate on the same play, allowing Jordan Locklear to score while Mack advanced to third base.
Two more runs scored when Oliver Brooks reached first base on an error later in the inning. Brooks hit a ground ball to St. Pauls third baseman Tyler Baker, whose throw sailed over the outstretched glove of first baseman Marcus Johnson.
A passed ball helped another run come home from third base. St. Pauls starting pitcher D.J. Hinson was then replaced on the mound by Aaron Revels.
The pitching change didn’t have an effect on the Red Devils, as they used an RBI double by Phillip Locklear to take a 9-2 lead.
Jordan Locklear accounted for the Red Devils’ tenth run by scoring on a wild pitch, capping of the second-inning rally.
Two of the final three runs for the Red Devils came on an RBI single by Tyee Sampson and an RBI groundout by Brooks in the third inning. Carthen came home to score as well on an error by St. Pauls in the outfield.
Phillip Locklear, who was one of four seniors honored in their last home game for the Red Devils, closed out the game by pitching the fifth inning. He picked up three strikeouts, walked two and allowed one hit.
“I could have done a little bit better, but we played together as a team, we stayed together and we finished the job,” Locklear said.
Hinson took the loss for the Bulldogs. He allowed six hits and five earned runs while striking out a pair of Red Devils and walking three more in 1 2/3 innings.
“I talked to them about how we’re going to meet Monday and talk about what we do from this point on,” Hunt said. “We’re going to close down the field, close down high school baseball. From Monday on, we’re going to talk about how we’re going to get better.”
St. Pauls won the softball matchup against Red Springs 18-5 in five innings.
Brianna Brewer struck out five in her five innings of work for the Lady Bulldogs and allowed eight hits. Jivee Graham and Kourtney Sanchious had three RBIs for St. Pauls.
Red Springs had two RBIs come from Sequoia Locklear.
Fairmont finishes regular season with sweep of Mustangs
ROWLAND — In two high-scoring contests, the Fairmont baseball and softball teams closed out the regular season with wins over South Robeson on the road.
In the baseball game, the Golden Tornadoes (18-6, 12-6 TRC) scored a run in every inning of the 19-6 win, with Seth Thorndyke earning the win on the hill.
Thorndyke and fellow senior Randy Floyd hit back-to-back homers in the third inning, after Fairmont posted seven runs in the second inning. Both had two hits and three RBIs, while Marcus Ransom had four hits and two RBIs.
South Robeson’s (3-20, 3-16 TRC) Cameron Hunt had a hit.
The Lady Golden Tornadoes won 20-12 despite committing 10 errors against South Robeson.
Adriannah Chavis struck out five in her six innings of work for Fairmont (13-11, 9-9 TRC), and also addd three RBIs at the plate. Amber Hunt had three hits and three RBIs, while Mya Strickland and Grace McMillan each had three hits and two RBIs.
South Robeson’s (1-19, 1-17 TRC) Makoa Riveira had a double, a homer and three RBIs.
Reach Brandon Tester at 910-816-1989 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @BrandonTester.