Vikings Finish Second in Tourney
A final inning rally came up short as Union Pines was outlasted 11-9 by 4-A Richmond Senior in Saturday’s championship game of the Chatlee Boat and Marine Easter Invitational.
Jeffrey Thompson, Nic Collins and Emmitt Carden had two hits apiece for a Viking team that had to battle from behind all evening after the Raiders scored three runs in the top of the first inning.
Collins, Thompson and Andrew Harward were named to the all-tournament team for Union Pines (11-5).
Coach Chad Hill’s squad, which sits tied atop the 3-A Cape Fear Valley Conference standings, takes a 6-1 league record into Tuesday’s tilt at CFVC co-leader Gray’s Creek.
Pinecrest was defeated 10-0 by Northwood in one of the consolation games. All of Saturday’s games were played at Southern Lee High School.
“This was an awesome tournament,” Hill said afterward. “We played three really good 4-A teams that are traditional powerhouses in baseball. If you told me we’d be 2-1 on Wednesday, I definitely would have taken it.”
Including Richmond at 13-4, the three teams the Vikings played in the event have a combined record of 36-17. Hill used six pitchers in the title tilt, sticking with his pre-tournament plan to have his staff well-rested for Gray’s Creek.
Two infield errors behind Viking starting pitcher Allen Denny helped the Raiders take a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning. The Vikes got one back quickly on a lead-off ground-rule double to right field by Mason Collins and a single by Thompson.
Trailing 5-1, Dylan Kelly and Carden had hits in the bottom of the second, and Thompson and Carden hit safely in the third, as the Vikings scored twice in each frame to tie the game at 5-5.
But tournament MVP Jeremy Smith tripled to left center, leading off a two-run fourth for the Raiders. Four walks and a double by Austin Brower helped them add four more runs in the fifth to take an 11-6 lead.
The Vikings pushed across a run in a bottom of the inning that included a single by Noble Davis and a towering infield fly by Collins that fell to the ground for a gift base hit.
Making his first varsity appearance, freshman Clay Thomas pitched a scoreless top of the sixth. In just his second mound call of the season, Thompson, a junior, struck out the side in impressive fashion in the top of the seventh.
The Vikings brought the tying run to the plate before running out of steam in their final at bat.
James Buie, who relieved Raider starting pitcher Bradley Brown in the third, walked Thompson with one out. N. Collins followed with a line drive that one-hopped against the center-field fence near the 390-foot sign for a double.
A ground out by Justin Allred and an interference call that put Ryan Gilmore aboard brought in two runs, making it 11-9. Buie then induced a Dylan Kelly pop out to the second baseman to end the game.
“We battled for seven innings tonight and I really hope this got the guys ready for the second half of the season,” Hill said.
Three-year Vike captain Nic Collins was impressed with the way the pitchers, including sophomore J.W. Dick, helped keep Union Pines within striking distance of the Raiders after falling behind early.
“Especially the jayvee guys that came up,” he said, referring to Dick and Thomas. “The main thing is throwing the ball over the plate and making them make contact. We’ve got the defense to make the plays behind them.”
The Viking senior slugger was upbeat about the coming week that includes not only the contest at Gray’s Creek, but a game against another CFVC contender in Southern Lee on Friday.
“It was definitely good seeing that kind of talent and live arms in between the conference games,” he said of a week that included tournament wins over Pinecrest and Terry Sanford. “It’s a big momentum boost mentally and physically, coming off the Overhills game (a 4-2 league loss).”
Pinecrest (11-5) will have to regroup for Tuesday’s home game against 4-A Southeastern Conference leader Scotland County after the five-inning mercy rule loss to Northwood.
Five of the six runs charged to Patriot starter Weston Phillips were unearned as Northwood took command with a five-run third inning. Robert Straughn allowed the Pats only four hits. Andrew Webster was 3-for-4 with three doubles for the Chargers.
R H E
Richmond 3 2 0 2 4 0 0 -- 11 8 2
Union Pines 1 2 2 1 1 0 2 -- 9 10 4
Denny, Dick (4), T. Davis (5), Breasseale (5), Thomas (6), Thompson (7) and Kelly. Brown, Buie (3) and Williams, Brown (3). WP – Buie LP – Dick; Leading hitters – ( R) Smith 2-4, TR, Brown 2-3, 2 DB, 3 RBI, Brower 2-4, DB, 2 RBI, (UP) N. Collins 2-3, DB, RBI, Carden 2-3, M. Collins 1-4, DB, Harward 1-3, 2 RBI.
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