05/10/13 — Wayne Christian slips past Statesville Christian, 2-1

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Wayne Christian slips past Statesville Christian, 2-1

By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on May 10, 2013 1:47 PM

Wayne Christian didn't get rattled Thursday afternoon when things got interesting with one swing of the bat.

The Eagles face a much tougher challenge in the second round.

Wayne Christian gave up a seventh-inning home run, but hung on for a 2-1 win over Statesville Christian in the first round of the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association 1-A state playoffs. The Eagles visit five-time defending state champ Lawrence Academy on Saturday.

Wayne Christian scored a pair of runs in the bottom of the third inning. Austin Howell provided a sacrifice fly and Brandon Price added an RBI single.

"Getting some runs early was big," Eagles' head coach Curt Hinton said. "After we left runners on first and second base in the first inning, we told our guys whatever it takes to scratch a run across is what we're going to do. We got a clutch hit from Brandon Price with two outs which was the difference maker."

Howard cruised on the mound, sitting down 11 straight Lions before running into fifth-inning trouble. Statesville Christian (9-6 overall) loaded the bases with two outs before Howell got Andrew Dahl to fly out to end the threat.

"If they get a base hit in that situation then we're in trouble," Hinton said. "Austin kept his composure and hit his spots and we were able to get them out."

Howell surrendered one earned run on four hits with seven strikeouts and four walks to record the win on the mound.

The Eagles (12-4) missed a chance to tack on an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth inning. Price was thrown out at the plate on Cameron Foss' two-out single to end the inning.

Daniel Miller's lead-off home run to left field in the top of the seventh inning pulled the Lions to within 2-1. Wayne Christian reliever Bryce Norman retired the next three batters to end the ballgame.

"Bryce came in and threw back door curves, and did what it took," Hinton said. "The guys didn't seem to be shook. The good thing is when we came into this game I told our kids we had nothing to lose and we played loose."