“Winning a series is always great, especially in the playoffs,” said Fayetteville head coach Morris Phillips. “It’s good to get this first series behind us, there are a lot of expectations for this team.”
In Game 1, Fayetteville came away with the win in just under two hours. A heavy favorite, the Wolves trailed in the third inning to the Eagles and had to battle back to win.
“We got the jitters out of the way,” said Fayetteville head coach Morris Phillips. “It looked like we came out a little nervous. There’s a big crowd here and everyone was expecting us to win.”
Shades Mountain threatened early, as Fayetteville’s Zach McGrady walked the first two batters. McGrady eventually settled down and struck out the final batter to retire the side.
After two scoreless innings, Blake Gardner’s pop-up scored Nicholas Wall, and the Eagles took a 1-0 lead.
Fayetteville responded in the bottom of the third.
J.T. Townsend and McGrady both singled, followed by a sacrifice fly that allowed Townsend to advance to third.
Andrew Scott’s single allowed Townsend and McGrady to score.
In the fifth, Shades Mountain made it 3-2 when Kyle Nation singled to score John Patrick Curren. The Eagles loaded the bases off an error later in the inning. Blake Gardner tied the game up at 3-3 following another Fayetteville error.
A double play from Scott to Aaron Williams to first baseman Dalton Vick got the Wolves out of the jam.
A throwing error by the Eagles allowed Randy Brasher to score as Fayetteville regained the lead, 4-3, in the bottom of the fifth inning.
A home run by Justin Ricks scored Jeremy Melton, and Fayetteville went up 6-3.
“(Ricks’) home run was a big lift for us,” Phillips said. “It came at a perfect time — when we needed some runs. It was good to see him step up.”
The Wolves would add one more run in the sixth, when Townsend batted in Vick.
Fayetteville’s first three batters on the rotation — Aaron Williams, Andrew Scott and Jeremy Melton — were 0-for-9 in the game.
“The seniors have to step up,” Phillips said. “We have to get better production out of them.”
McGrady pitched the full game allowing three runs and three hits while striking out eight batters.
“Zach did great,” Phillips said. “We can’t ask for anything better. He gives you 100 percent every time he goes on the mound.”
Ricks finished 2-for-3 with three RBIs and the home run, Townsend was 2-for-3 with a run and an RBI and Andrew Scott was 1-for-3 with two RBIs and a run scored.
In Game 2, Fayetteville’s bats came alive as the Wolves put 17 runs across the plate.
Shades Mountain again took an early 1-0 lead, but Fayetteville responded and ran away with the game.
Garner scored on a single from Vick to get things going. Vick then came home when Scott reached first on a throwing error.
Melton batted in Scott and Williams with a triple to make it 5-1, then Melton scored from third after Ricks reached second. Garner’s ground rule double scored Ricks, as the Wolf lead swelled to 7-1.
In the third inning, Scott’s hit scored Townsend to make it 8-1.
Moments later Ricks hit a single with the bases loaded, allowing Scott and Williams to score to make it 10-1.
With the bases loaded again, Garner reached first and Melton scored on a fielder’s choice, and Fayetteville closed out the top half of the third with an 11-1 lead.
Shades Mountain scored once in the bottom half of the frame to make it 11-2.
After more runs scored from McGrady and Williams, Williamson hit a grand slam in the fourth inning. Bringing Scott, Melton and Ricks home with him, Fayetteville took a 17-2 lead for the final Fayetteville runs.
Shades Mountain’s Joseph Anderson and Preston Williams both scored for the games final runs in the fourth, making the final score 17-2.
Melton pitched all five innings, giving up four runs and five hits while striking out seven.
Williamson (1-for-3) finished with five RBIs. Garner was 3-for-4 with a run, two RBIs and three doubles. Melton was 1-for-2 with a triple, two walks, two RBIs and three runs scored. Scott finished 3-for-4 with three runs and three RBIs.
Up next on the playoff road for Fayetteville will be Holy Spirit, which beat the Wolves in the Final Four last season. Phillips said he’s watched Holy Spirit play three times this year.
“They are a decent ball club,” Phillips said. “It will be a tough second round matchup.”
Holy Spirit and Fayetteville will square off next Friday.
Contact Wesley Sinor at firstname.lastname@example.org.