Pats Grab Dramatic Win in Baseball Opener
A two-out single up the middle by Pat Moore in the bottom of the seventh inning provided the winning run as Pinecrest defeated Forsyth Country Day 5-4 in a baseball game featuring highly ranked teams and a marquee pitching match-up.
Limited to a pitch count of 60 in Wednesday’s season opener at John Williams Field, Pinecrest ace Dillon Maples left the game in the top of the fourth inning with his team in front 2-1. Both Patriot runs crossed the plate on a two-run homer to right-center by Joey Vecchione in the bottom of the third.
The only hit allowed by Maples in a 3 2/3 inning stint that included seven strikeouts and two walks, was a solo home run by George Carter in the top of the fourth.
Evan Guy doubled home a run in the bottom of the fourth off the Furies’ UNC-bound Adam Griffin. Moore walked with one out in the bottom of the fifth and came all the way around on a passed ball and two wild pitches, making it 4-1.
Pitching in relief of Maples, freshman lefthander Tristan Helms got the last out of the fourth and pitched a scoreless fifth and sixth. But infield errors by Vecchione and Maples in the top of the seventh opened the door for the visitors.
Seth Constable singled in two runs and Griffin brought home the equalizer with a sacrifice fly. Vecchione, the third Patriot pitcher of the inning, got a strikeout to retire the side with the go-ahead run at third.
Brandon Culbreth, an NC State signee, took over for Griffin in the fifth. The first batter he faced in the bottom of the seventh was Austin Embler. The Patriot freshman began the at bat by lining a pitch over the right field fence about 20-feet foul. He then ripped a single to right and was bunted up a base by his brother, Cam Embler.
Walks to Vecchione and Maples (intentional) loaded the bases with one out. Culbreth fanned Bryce Owen before Moore ended it with his game-winning knock.
Vecchione received credit for the win. The game played before a capacity crowd was the scouting service, Perfect Game’s National High School Game of the Week. Forsyth came in as their fourth ranked team in the nation. Pinecrest is No. 2 in the Impact Baseball 4A pre-season poll.
The Patriots’ next game is on Friday at 5 p.m. against Riverside at Durham Athletic Park.
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