PIKEVILLE — The Charles B. Aycock Golden Falcons defeated the Eastern Alamance Eagles 4-3 on Tuesday night in the first round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association 3A playoffs.

The game started off as a pitching duel with C.B. Aycock’s Carson Gipson and Eastern Alamance’s Kasen McCawley both dealing from the mound early on.

With both starting pitchers at their best, the Golden Falcons and the Eagles were shut out during the first two innings.

The deadlock was finally broken in the bottom of the third inning when Cameron Aycock hit an RBI single that allowed Brandon Godwin to score from third base.

During the next at-bat, Aycock stole second base to put himself in scoring position.

Aycock’s steal paid off during the same at-bat. With two outs on the board, the ball was popped up into the outfield for what should have been an easy catch by the left fielder, but the Eastern Alamance outfielder dropped the ball and allowed Aycock to score from third to give the Golden Falcons a 2-0 lead.

In the top of the fourth inning, Eastern Alamance cut the lead to one run with a one-out solo home run. After hitting the next Eagles batter, Gipson allowed a single that turned into extra bases after a fielding error.

With runners on second and third base and just one out, the Eagles had a great chance to tie the game.

Gipson was unable to strike out the next batter, but he was able to get a ground out, which allowed one run to score but earned the second out of the inning.

During the next at-bat, the Eagles took the lead off a wild pitch from Gipson.

In the bottom of the fourth inning, the Golden Falcons answered back when Austin Dilda hit an RBI single to score Gipson from third base.

With the score tied at 3-3 heading into the fifth inning, both starting pitchers seemed to find their rhythm on the mound again as neither pitcher surrendered a single run in the fifth or sixth innings.

In the top of the seventh inning, Gipson had his best inning of the night when he struck out the side to give the Golden Falcons a chance to win the game in the bottom of the seventh.

With Eastern Alamance starting pitcher McCawley already having reached his pitch count, the Eagles brought out relief pitcher Joey Teixeira to try to extend the game.

Teixeira did not have the same level of success as McCawley, and he allowed a single and two walks while earning just one strikeout to load the bases with one out.

Up to bat for the Golden Falcons with the game on the line was Gipson, who had a lot of success on the mound throughout the game but struggled at the plate.

This time, Gipson was more than ready. He swung at the second pitch he saw, hitting it down the right field line for the game-winning RBI single.

Gipson said he was nervous before his last at-bat of the game, but he was able to relax thanks to some comforting words by C.B. Aycock head coach Allen Thomas.

“Yeah, I (felt) some pressure,” Gipson said. “Coach brought me over and told me to stay loose and relax. (He said), ‘It’s just like any other at-bat, put the ball in play, and trust yourself.’ ”

With the win, C.B Aycock improved to 18-5 overall. The Golden Falcons will host Northwood in the second round of the NCHSAA 3A playoffs on Thursday at 6 p.m.

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