After earning the No. 6 overall seed, the Midway Raiders were in North Carolina High School Athletics Association 2A Baseball Playoffs action on Wednesday night. The Raiders played host to No. 27-seed Bertie Falcons and found themselves in a barnburner that went down to the wire. When all was said and done, though, Midway held on and earned a 6-5 victory to move on to round number two.
In the first inning, the Raiders looked poised put things on cruise control as they raced out to quick 3-0 lead. Taking advantage of a hit, a walk, and pair of Falcons errors, Midway scored Cameron Barefoot, Carson Calcutt, and Sawyer Sutton to open up the advantage.
The game slowed down, though, as each team was held scoreless over the next couple innings until big changes occurred in the top of the third.
In that inning, disaster struck the Raiders.
Bertie’s Trenton White and Caleb Damo led the inning off with back-to-back singles to put runners on first and second. Raiders’ pitcher Sawyer Sutton then worked himself into a deeper hole as he surrendered a walk to Alden Cottle to load the bases. After a discussion on the mound, Midway head coach Jason Fussell opted to leave the freshman Sutton in. The Falcons capitalized. Scoop Hoggard drew a walk that brought in White. Jarrett Burden followed suit with an infield hit that then scored Damo, making it 3-2.
Bertie continued to cash in as an Evan Wells scored Cottle to make it 3-3. The Raiders then had a chance to stop the bleeding when a two-out infield grounder went from a routine play at first to an error that scored Hoggard. Later a passed ball scored Wells to make it 5-3 Bertie. Midway finally worked their way out of the jam but the Falcons had inflicted serious damage in taking the lead.
The Raiders though, who recently have made a living grinding out close games, remained poised and lived up those expectations.
In the bottom of the third, Colby Pope hit a one-out double and was scored two batters later on another big hit to center by Austin Peterson. Peterson was left stranded at second but Midway had regained some momentum as they trimmed the deficit down to 5-4.
Transitioning to the bottom of the fourth, the Raiders jumped right back on the rally horse to reclaim the lead.
Drew Matthews led the inning off with a single into left and was moved over to second when Jaron Register drew a walk. Cameron Barefoot laid down a sac bunt to move the runners and put Midway in prime position with just one out. The next batter, Cal Tyndall, hit a shot into left field to score Matthews and tie the game back up at 5-5.
Midway then pulled some impressive trickery to reclaim the lead. Tyndall broke for second before the Falcons pitcher could even release the pitch. He turned to throw the ball toward second, putting Tyndall in a brief rundown. Register then broke for home plate and beat throw and tag to make it 6-5.
That score held the rest of the way as Bertie went down in 1-2-3 fashion in the top of the seventh to end their season.
Leading the Raiders at the plate was Peterson and Matthews, each with two hits. Barefoot, Register, and Tyndall all had one hit.
With the win, Midway improves to 17-5 overall and advance to round two of post season play. They are slated to take on No. 22 Roanoke Rapids, who sprung the upset over No. 11 seed Bunn on Tuesday.
Game time is 7 p.m. Friday at Midway High School.
Reach Daron Barefoot at [email protected] Follow us on Facebook and Twitter @SampsonInd.