North Duplin clinches Carolina 1-A Conference title
By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on May 5, 2013 1:52 AM
SEVEN SPRINGS -- North Duplin has been battled tested all season long.
The Rebels survived one more challenge Friday night.
North Duplin saw a four-run lead shrink to one run in the bottom of the seventh inning but hung on for an 8-7 win at Spring Creek.
The Rebels (15-6, 8-2 CC) clinched their second Carolina 1-A Conference regular season title in the past three years. North Duplin also won its fifth one-run game of the season.
"We've had a lot of 2-1 and 5-4 games and we've lost a few and we've won a few," Rebels' head coach James Hobbs said. "I think it has prepared us and we've learned how to win close games like this. We're playing some of our best baseball right now and I think that gives us a big boost going into the playoffs."
The Gators play Rosewood at 6 p.m. on Monday at Southern Wayne to determine the conference's third and fourth seeds for the N.C. High School Athletic Association 1-A state playoffs.
North Duplin used a pair of walks and two Spring Creek errors to score three unearned runs in the top of the first inning.
The Gators (11-10, 6-4 CC) manufactured a run in the home half of the first inning on Chad Spurgeon's sacrifice fly to pull to within 3-1.
The Rebels pushed across two more runs in the top of the third inning on a Spring Creek error and a passed ball that allowed a run to score. Tyler Potter tacked on an RBI double in the top of the fifth inning. Blake Rhodes' RBI single extended North Duplin's advantage to 7-1 in the top of the sixth inning.
"I felt like we just really came out for whatever reason tight and tense," Gators' head coach Heath Whitfield said. "We have not talked about the importance of this game all week because our team is so young. We gave them three unearned runs right off the bat and that really hurt us."
Spring Creek managed to score three runs without a hit in the bottom of the sixth inning. Spurgeon drew a bases-loaded walk and Allen Coor provided a sacrifice fly. A balk drove home another run as the Gators cut the margin to 7-4.
The Rebels added what proved to be a pivotal insurance run in the top of the seventh inning on Charlie Mac Holloman's RBI single.
Spring Creek had not collected a hit since the second inning until it rallied in the bottom of the seventh inning. Ian Ladd raced home on a wild pitch and Spurgeon and Coor delivered back-to-back RBI singles to trim the deficit to 8-7.
The Gators had the tying and winning runs on first and second base with two outs when North Duplin reliever Cedrick Kornegay struck out Matt Rogers to end the ballgame.
"Cedrick is very confident," Hobbs said. "He's a confident kid and mentally strong and that's what you have to have as a pitcher. Spurgeon hit the ball really hard and Ced didn't let that get him down."
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