05/12/12 — Faith Christian can not overcome Union Grove

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Faith Christian can not overcome Union Grove

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on May 12, 2012 11:56 PM

KINSTON -- Too many strikeouts.

Stranded runners.

Physical errors.

All those factors led to a disappointing result for Faith Christian in semifinal-round play of the N.C. Christian Schools Association Class 2-A state baseball tournament Friday afternoon.

Tyler Sellers recorded three consecutive strikeouts with the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh inning, and Union Grove edged the Conquerors, 5-4, on the Bethel Christian Academy diamond.

"Errors ... hitting ... we let the guy rattle us," Faith head coach Justin Smith. "We knew they were throwing their best guy at us, their one chance (to win). I don't know if he got in our heads or what, but we weren't on our 'A' game when it comes to hitting."

Faith Christian (14-5 overall) struck out a season- and playoff-high 15 times, committed four costly errors which led to three unearned runs and left 10 runners on base with six in scoring position.

The teams traded one-run advantages through 5 1/2 innings.

The Conquerors grabbed a 3-2 lead on Silas Denlinger's infield single that scored Michael Clarke in the fifth inning. The Patriots (12-2) answered with a two-run sixth and extended their advantage to 5-3 in the top of the seventh.

Sellers plunked Trent Wise to start the bottom of the seventh. Wise swiped second base -- his fourth steal of the game -- and took third on a wild pitch. Clarke plated Wise with a single, and the Faith Christian faithful came alive near the Conquerors' dugout.

Wes Caudle reached on an outfield error and Sellers intentionally walked a frustrated Denlinger to load the bases. The trio -- all seniors -- stood silently on the bases as Sellers retired the next three batters on strikeouts. Each batter was caught looking at the third strike, which popped into catcher Trent O'Dell's glove.

"We had the bottom of the lineup up (to bat) and they've been big for us all year," Smith said. "We had our chances. I think he got in our guys' heads early pretty good. He did a great job up there."

Wise, Clarke, Caudle (two RBI), Denlinger (RBI) and Noah Welch each had one hit on the afternoon. Denlinger endured the mound loss in relief of Clarke, who surrendered two unearned runs on five hits and struck out three in four innings.

Brandon Jones threw the seventh.

Union Grove overcame seven errors and collected nine hits.