RALEIGH Charlotte Christian baseball coach Greg Simmons said his team has never had to play three games in one day – before Saturday.
Heavy rains in the Raleigh area forced the N.C. Independent Schools 3A baseball playoff schedule to be altered. Instead of playing Game 1 of the championship series Friday, the Knights and High Point Christian needed to play a best-of-3 championship series in one day.
And the Knights needed all three games: turning back determined High Point Christian Academy 5-4 in eight innings of the third contest to claim its third consecutive NCISAA 3A baseball championship. Christian (31-6) has won 13 state championships. Simmons won his 12th state title in 22 seasons.
The deciding game went extra innings before the Knights took advantage of their third bases-loaded opportunity of the contest, when Zach McIlroy scored on Josh Hall’s single up the middle.
“We knew if we got enough opportunities (in the third game), we could get the job done,” said Simmons, who got four home runs in Saturday’s championship series from Garrett Bradbury and two from Dillon Carpenter. “We let them (Cougars) off the hook too many times.”
The Cougars had loaded the bases in the fourth and seventh innings, only to come up empty.
Three Knights base runners were forced out at home, once each in the fourth, seventh and eighth innings.
Charlotte Christian had claimed a 2-0 lead in Game 3 on the strength of three walks, a wild pitch, and an error.
Then in the third inning, Christian extended its lead to 4-1 behind a superbly executed triple-steal with the bases loaded.
Hall broke from third during Cougars’ starting pitcher Luke Gessell’s wind-up, beating the pitch to the plate, while Garrett Bradbury – who had singled and moved to second on Dillon Carpenter’s walk – took third and Carpenter moved to second.
Hall had reached on a fielder’s choice.
High Point, which had scored on singles in the third and fourth innings, later tied the game on a two-run, two out single by Dylan Wilkinson.
Charlotte Christian won the opening game, 8-4, behind two home runs from Bradbury and a solo shot from Dillon Carpenter.
High Point forced the rubber match, overcoming a 1-0 deficit in Game 2 with a four-run fourth inning rally, holding off a seventh-inning surge by the Knights for a 5-4 victory.
Bradbury had given the Knights the 1-0 lead with a home run, his third of the series.
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