Midway made the trek up to Goldsboro on Thursday night, playing in their final must-win game to win the East Central Conference outright. After storming out to a commanding 12-0 lead the Raiders suddenly had to stave off a furious rally by the Cougars. Fortunately, Midway did just that as they held on for the 16-9 victory.
The Raiders got off to a solid start in the first inning, scoring five runs to claim momentum. Their defense went right to work in the lower part of the inning as they held Goldsboro at bay to keep their 5-0 lead.
Back on offense in the second, Midway maintained the intensity. Brayden Coats singles up the middle to get things started, then took second on a passed ball. Cameron Barefoot also singled into center to put runners on the corners. Cal Tyndall, well known for being hit by pitches, earned up to his name as he was hit once again to load the bases. Carson Calcutt then hit a single into left to score Coats and keep the bases loaded.
Two batters later, Chandler Williford hit an infield grounder to move all runners and score Barefoot with bases still loaded. Austin Peterson followed with a single into right field to score Tyndall and Calcutt as the Raiders kept pouring it on. Cameron Calcutt also got a base hit into center to score Williford before Goldsboro could finally stop the bleeding.
After the hit parade, Midway led 10-0 after two innings.
After again holding the Cougars off in the second, Midway went right back to work in the top of the third where Barefoot led off with a base hit into right field and stole second a couple batters later. Barefoot was moved to third on a passed ball just before Carson Calcutt was hit by a pitch to give the Raiders runners on the corners with one out. Colby Pope hit a sac flyball into center to score Barefoot followed by Dajohn Butler, who was pinch running for Calcutt, racing home for a score on a passed ball.
With Midway up 12-0 and showing no signs of letting up, Goldsboro was running out of time. But the Cougars responded with an answer that was loud and clear; they were not going down without a fight.
Very quickly in the bottom of the third inning, like sand in an hourglass, the Raiders lead dwindled.
Goldsboro, aided by pitching woes from Midway, slowly crept back into contention. The Cougars “batted” around, cashing in on six walks, two hits and a pitching change to score seven runs and trim the margin to 12-7.
Midway’s defensive struggles carried over to their offense as well. A couple of Goldsboro pitching changes slowed the Raiders rhythm as they were held scoreless in the fourth and fifth innings while the Cougars continued to close the gap.
Goldsboro got as close as 12-9 before Midway finally found some more success with their bats.
In the sixth inning, Pope led off and got the Raiders started with a double into left field. Williford then hit a shot into right field to score Pope. Goldsboro stopped them, though, after turning a double play to end the threat and keep the Raiders within striking distance at 13-9.
Midway, however, had done enough. The Raiders held the Cougars at bay in the sixth inning and picked up three more runs in the top of the seventh to push the score to 16-9. Goldsboro went down in order in the bottom of the seventh as Midway held on for the win.
Leading Midway at the plate was Cameron Calcutt with four hits and Barefoot with three. Carson Calcutt, Pope, Williford and Coats all had two hits followed by Jaron Register and Peterson each with one hit.
With the win, Midway improves to 16-5 overall and 10-2 in the East Central Conference. That record earns them sole possession of first place in the conference, finishing one game ahead of 9-3 Spring Creek.
Next up for the Raiders is postseason action, which is slated to begin on Wednesday. It is expected for Midway to get at least one home playoff game, but the official brackets won’t be released until this weekend.
Reach Daron Barefoot at [email protected] Follow us on Facebook and Twitter @SampsonInd.