RAMSEUR — Henderson Lentz’s one-out sacrifice fly in the bottom of the sixth brought in Casey Nichols with the deciding run before Andrew Tilley set Guilford down in order in the top of the …
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RAMSEUR — Henderson Lentz’s one-out sacrifice fly in the bottom of the sixth brought in Casey Nichols with the deciding run before Andrew Tilley set Guilford down in order in the top of the seventh as the Triad Tribe captured the Old North State League post-season tournament championship with a 4-3 triumph over the Blueticks Saturday night at I. Fletcher Craven Stadium.
Closing out the year with five straight victories, second-seed Triad finished with a record of 20-6, whereas fifth-seed Guilford wound up its season at 13-15.
Parker Strader went six innings on the mound to achieve the win, allowing six hits and three runs (two earned) while issuing four free passes and fanning three prior to Tilley striking out the side in his one inning of work to pick up a save.
Lentz, Nichols and Kirby Smith led the victors at the plate with two hits apiece.
“It was a great effort by both teams tonight, and this was the way a championship game should be played,” stated Tribe coach Ross Davis. “A number of guys stepped up big for us this evening, and it was a combination of good pitching along with timely hitting that pulled us through.”
Logan Fisher, the Blueticks’ third and final pitcher of the night, hurled four innings and took the loss after surrendering five hits and one earned run while whiffing three.
Guilford starter Nick Berhalter lasted just one-third of an inning, giving up two hits plus an earned run in addition to walking two and striking out one, before Austin Brooks came on to toss one and two-third innings in relief, yielding a pair of hits and two earned runs while issuing one free pass.
“Fisher’s leadership coming out of the bullpen and his confidence on the hill were big factors that kept us in the ball game,” remarked Blueticks’ coach Sean Stevens. “While we failed to capitalize on some early scoring opportunities, we finally managed to string a few hits together to pull even in the fourth, but after that we only got one other hit the rest of the way. Triad made a big-time play to throw a runner out at the plate in the top of the sixth, but we couldn’t make the throw from the outfield when they scored the winning run, and that turned out to be the difference in the outcome.”
The Tribe forged a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first as leadoff batter Luke Pegram drew a walk on four pitches, went to second on Clayton Smith’s one-out opposite-field single to right and scored when Kirby Smith lined an opposite-field base hit to right.
Triad stretched its advantage to 3-0 in the home third as Lentz opened the frame with an opposite-field single to left and advanced to second when Clayton Smith received a full-count free pass.
One out later Kirby Smith’s base hit to left drove in Lentz and sent Clayton Smith to third. Jake Glover then reached on a fielder’s choice when Guilford botched a rundown between third and home, leaving the bases loaded prior to Grant Fulbright plating Clayton Smith with a fielder’s choice.
The Blueticks battled to tie the score in the visitors’ fourth as leadoff batter Angelo Pahila reached on an infield error and moved to third on consecutive base hits to left by Tyler Dellerman and Davis Downey.
Joshua Benfield then rapped a two-run single up the alley in right-center but was thrown out at second attempting to stretch his hit into a double as Downey went to third and tallied one out later when Cade Giles doubled to center.
After Guilford’s Caleb Hager was nailed at the plate trying to score from second on Chayton Lukkes’ two-out single to right in the top of the sixth, the Tribe began its game-winning rally in the bottom half of the frame when Nichols blooped an opposite-field base hit to right and was sacrificed to second.
Pegram then advanced Nichols to third with his bloop single down the right field line before Lentz lofted his sacrifice fly to left that allowed Nichols to score the go-ahead run.
Prior to the start of the contest, Old North State League President and General Manager Reggie Allred announced the league’s Pitchers and Players of the Year from both the Western and Eastern Divisions.
For the West, Jacob Wright of the High Point Highlanders was named Pitcher of the Year, while Tyler Dellerman of the Guilford Blueticks was chosen Player of the Year.
For the East, Tyler Bryant of the Randolph Lumberkings was selected Pitcher of the Year, while Clay Richardson of the Deep River Muddogs was named Player of the Year.