A runner on first, two outs, one ball and two strikes in the bottom of the seventh with the tying run at the plate. That was the scenario Matt Barefoot and the Midway Raiders faced in the rubber match of the NCHSAA 2A State Championship game. What happened next? A fastball from the left hand of Barefoot slid past the bat of Bunker Hill’s Hayden McGraw into the mitt of catcher Kyle Hawley, and the game was over. The season was over. And Midway was state champions.
One year after falling a game short in the 1A title game, Midway redeemed themselves with a 2A state title. Matt Barefoot was the winning pitcher in the championship-clinching game, fanning eight batters over a complete seven innings of work. Barefoot broke his hand earlier in the season in an Easter Tournament game with Scottland County, and did not know if he would even be back and ready for the playoffs. Barefoot was cleared to play the day Midway began the state playoffs, and slowly worked his way back into the pitching rotation, establishing himself as a dominate threat on the mound once again for the Raiders. “Matt did really well coming off of the broke hand. I couldn’t be prouder of him,” said Midway’s head coach Jason Fussell following his team’s 4-2 win over Bunker Hill.
Pitching has been a stronghold for the Raiders this postseason, as Dylan Hardison, Taylor Calcutt, and Barefoot have put given the team great outings in each performance.
Midway struck early in game three with a three run first inning. Kyle Hawley, Luke Clark, and Tyler Pope each had RBI singles for the Raiders in the opening inning.
Bunker Hill got the margin down to 3-2 in the third inning as a walk and a single scored a run each after the bases were loaded. Midway got a run of insurance in the top of the sixth when Austin Hardison scored on a Cody Baker single.
Barefoot promptly struck out the final two batters of the ball game with fastballs. The final strike for the final out sent the Raiders out to the middle of the diamond for celebration of their first state title since 1981.
“I’m so proud of all of the guys. Being here last year really helped us out this year. We knew not to press in situations that we pressed in last season. I actually think we were even sharper when the game got tighter later on,” said Fussell.
As the Raiders had celebrated and were walking off of the field, Luke Clark mentioned something to himself that wasn’t intended for anybody to hear. “Man, that’s a perfect ending to senior year,” uttered Clark. For all of the Midway players, fans, and alumni, it was the perfect ending to a great year of baseball.
This team has always had a lot of buzz around them. It was often mentioned what could be accomplished. Well, now it is accomplished. This team will be remembered for the trophy that will soon sit in the trophy case, and the banner that will soon hang in the gym.