Facing a win or go home situation, No. 2 Rosewood made history.
The Eagles knocked off No. 5 Bear Grass Charter, 8-4, in Saturday’s semifinals behind the steady pitching, good defense and timely hitting that’s carried the Eagles throughout the season.
“We played our game,” Rosewood head coach Jason King said. “Things we’ve done all season long started to show tonight. We hit the ball with guys on base, timely hitting, playing great defense, its stuff we’ve done all season long, and it just came together.
“Bear Grass is a heck of a team, they’re fundamentally sound, and we’re just fortunate to have a game like that.”
The Eagles will be counting on that same combination to win the most significant series of their high school careers against No. 10 Uwharrie Charter Academy. Game is one is Friday at Five County Stadium in Zebulon. First pitch is set for 5 p.m.
Patrick Jones pitched four and two-thirds innings to pick up the win, while Will Albert threw two and one-thirds innings of relief. Jones allowed one run, five hits and had four strikeouts.
And as a team, the Eagles made some big plays that helped their team stay in command.
It’s the first time in school history that Rosewood reached the state championship series. Rosewood lost in the second round last season and lost in the regional round in 2017.
Rosewood (23-4 overall) scored eight runs on eight hits against the five pitchers Bear Grass Charter used throughout the game.
Down 1-0 in the third inning bottom, the Eagles scored two runs when Carson Hatem and Connor Wise both stole home plate off a wild throw by Bear Grass Charter catcher Joseph Perry.
Later in the inning, Logan Merritt’s RBI single gave the Eagles a 3-1 lead.
However, the Bears weren’t going down without a fight.
In the top of the fifth inning, with two outs and bases loaded, Tanner Wyle ripped off a single, which enabled Donald Stotesberry to run toward home plate.
But Will Harris made one of the game’s best plays in the fifth inning. With Stotesberry running toward, Harris made a great throw to Logan Price, who tagged out Stotesberry and got the Eagles out of the inning.
Following the tremendous defensive play, Tanner Capps led off the bottom of the fifth inning with a solo homer to center field, Jones hit an RBI double, T.J. Ruffino stole home and Price also hit to give the Eagles a commanding 7-1 lead
“The fifth inning was a game changer,” King said. “This game is about momentum changes, and you have to some go your way sometimes, and we had big-time momentum shift right there.”
Connor Casey’s RBI single in the bottom of the sixth pushed the Eagles lead up 8-1.
Rosewood maintained a seven-run lead until the top of the seventh inning when Bear Grass Charter scored three runs.
With the bases loaded and one out, Perry hit a bases-clearing double to make it an 8-4 game, but Albert ended Bear Grass Charter’s season when he struck out one batter and forced another into a ground out.
The leading hitters for Rosewood were Jones and Casey, who both finished with two hits and an RBI. Capps was 2-4 with a home run and an RBI, while Price went 1-2 with a double.
“These guys have fought all year long,” King said. “There are no words to describe how proud of them I am.”