05/07/13 — Rouse delivers game-winning, 10th-inning hit for Gators

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Rouse delivers game-winning, 10th-inning hit for Gators

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on May 7, 2013 1:47 PM

DUDLEY -- Will Rouse's finest moment in his short varsity career undoubtedly occurred Monday evening.

The Spring Creek freshman delivered the game-winning walk-off hit and emerged the winning pitcher during a 5-4, 10-inning triumph over Rosewood at the Doyle Whitfield Athletic Complex.

Rouse's two-out, two-RBI base knock allowed the Gators to secure the Carolina Conference's No. 3 seed for the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 1-A baseball playoffs, which begin Friday.

The Eagles exited as the No. 4 seed.

Spring Creek (12-10 overall) picked up its sixth win in last eight outings and improved to 3-6 in games decided by two runs or less this season.

"I hope we've built some (momentum)," Gators head coach Heath Whitfield said. "I hope we start swinging the bats a little bit better. The last couple of games we've been in a funk. Hopefully tonight will excite them a little bit and keep the momentum going.

"It's going to be one-and-done from here on out."

The Gators and Eagles combined to bat just 4-for-28 (.143) with runners in scoring position. Spring Creek left nine men aboard, including the game-winning run in the eighth and ninth innings.

Rosewood stranded 11 with nine men in scoring position.

The Eagles (7-15) are 4-8 in contests decided by two runs or less this season.

"It's basically the story of our entire conference season in one game," Rosewood head coach Jason King said. "It's been tight all season long against nearly everybody we played. Tonight was no different.

"We've had to hang around, claw our way back into games (and) hang onto games by a thread. Everybody is just so close talent-wise and ability."

Trailing 3-0 heading into its final at-bat during regulation play, Rosewood finally got the timely hit with runners in scoring position. Jordan Lynn busted up the Gators' shutout bid with an RBI single.

Bryce McKeel followed with an RBI groundout and Jordan Gurley plated Lynn with a sharply-hit single to right field.

"We had been looking for that all game long," King said.

The Eagles fended off eighth- and ninth-inning rallies, and took their first lead, 4-3, on Ethan Chapin's two-out single up the middle. Rouse started the 10th in relief of Luke Miller, who wiggled out of trouble in the eighth and ninth.

Down to its final out and final strike with two runners on in the 10th, Spring Creek answered behind Rouse. The diminutive utility player took two consecutive strikes, fouled off a pitch and drove Brent Breedlove's fourth offering into center field.

Matt Rogers and Tre Hammonds scored on the play.

"Will said in the post-game huddle he had never gotten a hit on a curveball in his life and he got one," Whitfield said. "(We) finally had a two-out rally and it's been several games since we've done that.

"He stayed right on it, hit a ball hard and it got through."