05/08/11 — North Duplin claims share of Carolina 1-A baseball championship

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North Duplin claims share of Carolina 1-A baseball championship

By Staff Reports
Published in Sports on May 8, 2011 1:51 AM

SEVEN SPRINGS -- There was no talk of conference titles.

This time the pre-game message was "have fun."

"The last time we played Ayden, I stressed the point this game could be for the conference championship," said first-year North Duplin head coach Brad Lloyd. "The boys were tight and they didn't play really well. This time, I just told them to have fun."

The Rebels did.

And earned a share of the Carolina 1-A Conference title -- the first in program history in at least two-plus decades -- with a resounding, 13-6 victory over Spring Creek before a standing-room-only crowd at "The Swamp" on Friday evening.

North Duplin (17-3 overall, 8-2 CC) tied with Ayden-Grifton for regular-season supremacy, but lost both head-to-head meetings. The Rebels earned the No. 2 seed and a home contest in the N.C. High School Athletic Association playoffs, which begin either Thursday or Friday.

The Gators (12-11, 7-3) dropped to the No. 3 seed and face the Tri-County runner-up in opening-round action.

"We made a beaucoup of errors, three in the second inning that led to four runs for them," said Spring Creek head coach Heath Whitfield. "That sort of opened the gates a little bit there. We came back, it got close and they busted loose in the seventh."

The Rebels manufactured five runs on two walks, three hits and an error.

Joseph King and Ryan Wolf spearheaded the North Duplin offense with three hits apiece. King had one RBI, while Wolf drove in two runs. James Kornegay knocked in three runs.

Colby Gehron batted 2-for-3 with two RBI and emerged the winning pitcher. He permitted five runs (one earned) on nine hits in 5 2/3 innings on the mound. Wolf supplied one-plus inning of two-hit relief.

"We hit the ball pretty daggone good," said Lloyd, whose team finished with 14 hits and 11 RBI. "Everybody had a part. We just hit it at the right time. We played good defense and made a couple of errors, but we didn't let it get to us."

Ricky Brayboy, one of two Spring Creek seniors, cranked out three hits in his final appearance at "The Swamp." Zach Harrell added two hits, while Corey Howell doubled. Fellow senior Will Janning also played his final game at home.

Duane Gurganus suffered the mound loss.

"They've got some good young players and are going to be there for years to come, I believe," said Whitfield of the Rebels.