Corinth Holders’ Tyler Stufano, right, pitches to Holly Springs’ Patrick Trease, left, during a high school baseball game in Wendell, N.C., Tuesday, May 21, 2019.
Corinth Holders continues to rise to stepping up a division in N.C. High School Athletic Association play. The Pirates are just one win from a 4A East Regional title in only their second year at state’s the large-school level.
Corinth Holders senior pitcher Tyler Stufano tossed a three-hitter to beat Holly Springs 2-0 Tuesday night at home in the first game of the best-of-three series. The teams resume play at 7 p.m. Thursday at Holly Springs and Saturday at Corinth Holders if necessary.
The Johnston County school opened as a 2A member in 2010 and soon adapted to the 3A level with a runner-up finish in the 2016 3A East Regional final. But in their first 4A post-season tournament a year ago, they were bounced the first round.
“Moving up a division is tough,” said sixth-year Pirates head coach Adam Weaver. “We had just graduated our first senior class at the 2A when we moved to the 3A. Now we’re in the 4A, where there is more depth. There are still guys in the 2A and 3A that can beat you, but there are more of them in the 4A.”
Second-seeded Corinth Holders improved to 22-5, while No. 3 seed Holly Springs dropped to 20-6.
Although Stufano is a senior committed to continue his career in college at Embry-Riddle in Daytona Beach, Fla., the Pirates are a junior dominated team.
Junior first baseman Zane Blinson stroked a two-out single in the bottom of the third inning for the game’s only runs. Junior second baseman Ty Cummings, who is committed to Campbell University, junior right-fielder Landon Ginn, who is committed to East Carolina, were on base after both walked and executed a double steal.
“These juniors have become my best friends,” Stufano said. “I’m glad we have them on the team this year and they can carry it on next year.”
Tanner Smith, who is committed to UNC-Wilmington, is another junior. He had some slick plays at shortstop, including two putouts in the seventh inning that required strong throws. One was in the hole and the other a slow grounder he had to charge.
Holly Springs pitcher Patrick Trease limited Corinth Holders to four hits while striking out 10, but the two third-inning walks were too much to overcome. Stufano only struck out two, but he walked only one.
“We’re fine,” Holly Springs coach Rod Whitesell said. “We’ve been playing good baseball. We’ve just got to find a way to win twice.”