05/15/13 — Eighth-inning error helps North Duplin advance in postseason

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Eighth-inning error helps North Duplin advance in postseason

By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on May 15, 2013 1:47 PM

CALYPSO -- Blake Rhodes jogged home with his arms raised high in ecstasy.

Josh Hamilton laid motionless in defeat on the outfield grass.

Rhodes scored the game-winning run on Hamilton's error in the bottom of the eighth inning as North Duplin rallied for an 8-7 victory over West Columbus Tuesday night in the second round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association 1-A state playoffs.

The Rebels (17-6 overall) reached the third round of the playoffs for the third time in four years. They play host to perennial Coastal Plains power Dixon on Friday.

West Columbus took a 7-6 lead on Tanner Daniels' bases-loaded walk in the top of the eighth inning.

North Duplin refused to go quietly and orchestrated the game's finally rally during its last at-bat. Ced Kornegay reached on an infield and scored on an error as Daniels mishandled Rhodes' ground ball at shortstop.

Mitchell Thigpen hit a deep fly ball to left that Hamilton dropped, which allowed Rhodes to score the game-winning run from second base.

"He threw me a hanging curveball inside and I just hit it," Thigpen said. "We've been in these positions before and we don't get rattled."

Daniels' sacrifice fly gave the Vikings a 1-0, first-inning lead.

West Columbus (10-16) extended its advantage in the top of the third inning. Eric Jenkins scored on a wild pitch and Chandler Nobles added an RBI single.

Zach Hardin supplied a sacrifice fly in the top of the fourth innings as the Vikings' lead grew to 4-0. North Duplin left-hander Trey Pate struggled to find the strike zone early and walked seven batters in the first four innings.

The Rebels scored three runs with two outs during their half of the fourth inning. James Britt drove home a run when West Columbus second baseman Madison Benton lost Britt's pop-up in the lights. Kornegay followed with a two-run single to pull North Duplin to within 4-3.

"It helped that they made some mistakes here and there," Rebels' head coach James Hobbs said. "We made them pay on it. We don't get down. As long as they battle and fight and play as hard as they can that's all I can ask for."

North Duplin squandered a pair of golden scoring opportunities in the bottom of the fifth inning. Thigpen attempted to score from third base on Pate's ground ball to second base but was thrown out at the plate. Later in the inning, Taylan Lewis was thrown at out at second base to end the inning while trying to stretch a single into a double.

The Vikings padded their lead in the top of the sixth. Benton delivered an RBI single and Hardin contributed a two-run double as West Columbus increased its lead to 6-3.

Thigpen's two-run single in the bottom of the sixth inning cut the deficit to 6-5. Kornegay later scored from third on a wild pitch to tie the game at 6-6.