Knights oust Trojans in 3A semifinals
Wesleyan Christian Academy stayed with Charlotte Christian all game. But it couldn’t make that one pitch on the mound, that one play in the field, that one hit at the plate to push it over the top.
In the end, the top-seeded Knights did, grabbing an early lead and then, with the score tied, plating the go-ahead run in the fourth, in handing the fourth-seeded Trojans a 4-3 loss Friday afternoon in the semifinals of the NCISAA 3A state baseball playoffs at Finch Field.
“I thought we played fantastic overall,” Wesleyan coach Scott Davis said. “I thought our effort overall was extremely strong — nothing to be disappointed about. We came in knowing we were short on the mound, and we’d throw everyone we had to try to advance.
“We threw a lot of guys, and everyone did their job. But they’re one of the best teams in the state, the No. 1 seed. So, when you’re playing against them, it’s always uphill. They had good pitchers, we had some good at-bats, but we just couldn’t get the guy across at the end.”
After building a 3-0 before the Trojans tied it 3-3 in the top of the fourth, Charlotte Christian (28-4) pushed across the go-ahead run in the bottom of the fourth when Jackson Kowar took a pitch to the body with the bases loaded to lead 4-3.
Wesleyan had a look at evening the score in the bottom of the seventh with two outs. Hayden Manuel roped a single, and then Lane Kowalski blooped a single to right-center. Manuel was waved to third but was thrown out on a very close play at the bag.
“We were hoping to get one of the 8 or 9 hitters on and then to the top,” Davis said. “But we battled with Hayden’s base hit and then Kowalski coming around. I probably shouldn’t have sent Hayden in that situation, but we’ve been having trouble scoring runs.
“So, I felt like putting a little pressure on them there — maybe get a throw-away or something. But it is what it is.”
The Trojans (18-7), after allowing two runs in the first and another in the third, tied it 3-3 in the top of the fourth. Beau Myers ripped an RBI double off the bottom of the wall in left, then Ryan Clinch had an RBI single, and Myers scored on a wild pitch.
Wesleyan was right back in it after its rough start. As it has all season, it pieced together enough to stay in the game, throwing a bevy of pitchers. But, despite its best efforts, it couldn’t quite overtake one of the state’s top teams.
“We’ve bounced back all year long,” Davis said. “I can’t tell you how many times we’ve won games after being behind early. … I’ll just remember this team as one that never quit. They fight. This team will be remembered as one of the toughest teams I’ve ever had.”