BEAR CREEK — Uwharrie Charter erupted for three runs in the top of the first to seize the early momentum and behind a complete-game pitching effort from Hunter Hill cruised to a 6-0 triumph over …
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BEAR CREEK — Uwharrie Charter erupted for three runs in the top of the first to seize the early momentum and behind a complete-game pitching effort from Hunter Hill cruised to a 6-0 triumph over Chatham Central in second-round play of the 2019 NCHSAA 1A West Region state baseball playoffs Thursday night on Ronald Scott Field.
Improving to 6-0 all-time against the Bears, the 10th-seed Eagles climbed to 20-5 overall and advanced to the third round of post-season competition for the fourth straight year, as they will now travel to New London to meet second-seed North Stanly (22-2) next Tuesday evening, while seventh-seed Chatham Central suffered its first shutout of the season and had its seven-game winning streak snapped to end the year with a record of 15-8.
Making his first career start, Hill proved to be a dominant force on the mound, allowing just five hits and issuing no walks, going to a three-ball count on only two batters, while fanning 11. The sophomore right-hander threw a total of 104 pitches, including 75 (72 percent) for strikes.
“Hunter had great control this evening and threw strikes while doing a good job getting ahead of batters,” said Uwharrie Charter coach Van Hurley Jr.
“Jumping out to a 3-0 lead our first turn at bat was big as it kind of took the wind out of Chatham Central’s sails, and although we were able to take advantage of aggressive base running to add some insurance runs later on, we need to do a better job of not leaving people in scoring position.”
Senior southpaw Caleb Staley opened on the mound for the Bears and went four innings while absorbing the loss, giving up four hits and five runs (three earned) in addition to issuing four free passes and whiffing four.
Sophomore right-hander Michael Moore hurled three innings in relief, yielding a pair of hits and one earned run besides walking two and striking out four.
“Uwharrie Charter threw a good pitcher who stayed ahead of batters all night, and we could never get anything going offensively while only managing three clean hits,” said Chatham Central coach Brett Walden. ”We gave ourselves a few opportunities to put runs on the board but couldn’t produce timely hits with guys in scoring position. Despite the defeat we never stopped working hard and battled for all seven innings, and I’m proud of everything this team accomplished this year.”
The Eagles gave Hill a three-run working margin their initial trip to the plate as Tyler Campbell lined a one-out single to center and scored when Colyn Grissom smashed a double to the left field fence.
Courtesy runner Logan Sawyer then dashed home when Spencer Lanier’s fly ball to right-center was dropped, allowing Lanier to race all the way to third before tallying on Bryson Hamlet’s sacrifice fly to right.
The Bears threatened in the bottom of the first as leadoff batter Lofton Dodson reached on an infield error and went to second on a two-out groundout prior to being thrown out on a close call at home plate when he attempted to score on Staley’s base hit to center.
Uwharrie Charter increased its advantage to 5-0 in the visitors’ fourth as Colt Wilkins poked a single to center with one away, stole second and came in to score when Colby Hammer rapped a base hit to right and continued on to second on the throw-in from the outfield.
Hammer then stole third before sprinting home on a wild pitch.
After standing a pair of runners in scoring position with one away in the home second, Chatham Central mounted its last serious threat in the bottom of the fifth when the Bears loaded the bases with one out on Jackson Gray’s base hit up the middle, Dodson’s single to left and Michael Moore’s infield hit.
But Hill then bore down and struck out Tyson Measamer and Staley in succession to snuff out a potential Chatham Central rally as he retired the last eight batters he faced in order, including five on strikeouts, to wrap up the victory.