RWA Edges Pat’s to Advance

RWA-6, Wardlaw-5

Round 2 Friday at Holly Hill, 4 p.m. Start to Doubleheader

 

Noah Edwards dives back to first in Wednesday's deciding game at Wardlaw. (Photo/Kay Hensley)

Noah Edwards dives back to first in Wednesday’s deciding game at Wardlaw. (Photo/Kay Hensley)

JOHNSTON (May 5, 2016) – The Richard Winn Academy Eagles made the long journey to Johnston Wednesday to meet the Wardlaw Academy Patriots in the final game of their regional playoff series. The two teams split games in a doubleheader Monday, but it would be the Eagles who would walk away with the series victory after a tight 6-5 win in the decisive third game.

“We’ve seen all the pitching they got, they’ve seen the guys we got,” Eagles head coach Paul Brigman said. “It makes it a little more difficult; there’s that familiarity with the pitching staff and things like that, but we were able to overcome that.”

Richard Winn made their presence felt early on in the ball game, putting up a five-spot in the first inning. Things kicked off with a lead-off double for John Coleman, a senior in his last playoff run with the Eagles.

“It was important we got on them early,” Brigman said. “We were able to put in our starting pitchers, and hold on, so it was very important.”

Patriots’ starter Caleb Kemp walked a man, then plunked Chris Christianson. Christianson was beaned by Wardlaw pitches a whopping three times in the game.

Those consecutive free passes would load the bases for Coker Gilbert, who despite hitting into a fielder’s choice, brought in a run to score. With the bases still loaded, Kemp walked in another run.

Hunter Glisson knocked in the fifth and final run for the Eagles in the first. Christianson, who was also taking the mound for the Eagles, blanked Wardlaw’s bats in the first inning.

Richard Winn added another run in the top half of the second, thanks to a Bryant Carvalho sac-fly. It looked as if the Eagles were going to cruise to the second round of the playoffs, but the home team was not done yet.

Christianson hit a bit of a rough patch on the mound in the second. He walked one, and gave up a double that left runners on first and third, then Wardlaw freshman Bailey Goldman stepped up and made him pay with a two-run double.

The Patriots’ momentum kept rolling into the third, when they scored on a wild-pitch and an error, cutting the deficit back down to a manageable 6-4. After the third inning, the Eagles went into their bullpen, which was incredibly solid, for Ethan McManus.

Both teams hit the offensive skids until the fifth inning when Wardlaw senior Preston Jones roped an RBI double out to left field that pulled the Patriots within one.

“We lost the first game on Monday against them the same way,” Brigman said. “We were ahead and let them come back in the last inning, and we created issues for ourselves of our own doing, and I was a little worried about us going down that same road, but our guys held tough.”

Wardlaw, despite getting close, could not seem to get to the Eagles’ bullpen. Jacob Steele breezed through the sixth inning.

Coker Gilbert came on in the seventh looking for the save, and to propel his team to the next round of the playoffs. The first batter he faced, Zac Berry, quickly went 0-2 before flying out.

The second batter, Kemp, flew out on the first pitch. Jones, the third man up and potential game tying run, reached base on a fielding error.

Finally, Gilbert got freshman William Prince to whiff on three straight pitches to end Wardlaw’s comeback attempt, and their season.

“The bullpen was key,” Brigman said. “Ethan McManus, one of our 10th-graders, came in and gave us an inning and a third, and really kind of stopped the bleeding for us, got a very important double-play ball. He got us back on the right step, then Jacob Steele and Coker Gilbert, who have been our best pitchers all year, came in and closed it down.”

The victory means the Eagles will face the region’s number one seed Holly Hill in a two-game set Friday on the road. If the series is split, the third and final game would be played at Richard Winn Saturday.

“From everything we heard, they’ve got several good pitchers,” Brigman said about Holly Hill. “We expect it to be tough, but we feel like we’ve got good senior leadership, and we’ve got a strong pitching staff as well. If we don’t help them out, if we don’t make a bunch of errors and things like that, I think we’ll have a really good chance.”

 

RW: 5-1-0-0-0-0-0 – 6-6-4

WA: 0-2-2-0-1-0-0 – 5-5-5

Pitching: RW – Christian Christianson (W), 3IP, 3H, 4R, 2ER, 4BB, 1HB; E. McManus, 1.2IP, 1H, 1R, 1ER, 1K; C. Gilbert (S), 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0ER. WA – Caleb Kemp (L), 5IP, 6H, 6R, 4ER, 7BB, 2K, 2HB; B. Goldman 2IP, 1H, 0R, 0ER, 1BB, 1K, 1HB.

Hitting: 2B – Christian Christianson, J. Coleman (RW); Preston Jones, B. Goldman (WA). RBI – H. Glisson, C. Gilbert, B. Carvalho (RW); P. Jones, B. Goldman.

LOB: RW 8, WA 6.