McMichael Ends Vikes' Season
Union Pines lost 12-5 to McMichael High School Friday in the opening round of the state 3-A baseball playoffs at Viking Field in Cameron.
The visiting Phoenix (19-6) jumped out to an early 5-0 lead and pushed that margin to 7-0 before Union Pines scored a pair of runs in the bottom of the fourth frame. With five-and-a-half innings in the books the third seed out of the Mid-State Conference held a comfortable 10-2 advantage.
“This game seemed to epitomize the latter part of our season,” Union Pines head coach Chad Hill said, “in that we couldn’t make that one out or pitch, couldn’t quite make that one play and couldn’t quite get that one big hit to either get us back in the game or allow us to grab a lead.
“We did have some opportunities tonight but never could quite seem to capitalize while the other team — McMichael — did a great job of doing all those things it takes.”
Union Pines had a tough time making solid contact the first time through its lineup as the squad tallied just one hit while fanning five times against Phoenix starter Landon Biggs. The Vikings started off shaky in the field as well, making two errors in the opening three frames, while senior captain Nic Collins got banged around for six hits in two and 1/3 innings of work.
The end result left Union Pines in a 5-0 hole on the scoreboard through three innings of action.
“They battled at the plate early,” said Hill of McMichael’s lineup. “They fouled a lot of balls off up there and got Nic’s pitch count up. As a pitcher it gets to be frustrating on the mound when you continue to make good pitches and they are able to foul those off.
“In a state playoff game you cannot get down too many runs before you make a change and they were not swinging and missing at too many pitches — they had a good approach, they got their foot down, went backside and hit some balls hard.”
Collins was credited for the loss in the contest, as he allowed four earned runs, issued four free passes and struck out four batters in his short stint on the hill. Senior Justin Allred came in to spell Collins with one out in the third and the score 4-0 with a runner on second.
Hill admitted that his team’s defensive play was less than sparkling on the evening. Overall, the Vikings committed seven miscues, including three behind Collins.
“Errors are something that have plagued us all season,” Hill said, “and if you watched us you would think we never worked any on defense, which is very frustrating for someone (like me), who stresses the defensive aspect of the game so much, to see us constantly not quite make that play.”
Trailing 7-0 in the bottom of the fourth, the Vikings rallied to load the bases with one out on hits by Emmitt Carden and Ryan Gilmore and a walk by Seth Breasseale.
An RBI walk by Andrew Harward and an RBI on a hit by pitch from Noble Davis trimmed the deficit to five runs. But from there the Vikings left the bases loaded as Allred went down on strikes and Jeff Thompson popped out to right to let the visitors off the hook.
From there McMichael’s extended its lead to 10-2, by plating three runs on two Vike errors, two hits and a sacrifice bunt in the top of the sixth.
Union Pines mounted a charge in the bottom of the frame as its seven- eight- and nine-hole hitters — Gilmore, Harward and Davis, respectively — started things off with three straight singles to load the bases. After Allred was caught looking on a full count for the first out, Thompson got Gilmore in when he was hit by a pitch. Next Collins came up with the bases loaded and the score 10-3.
The lefty slugger managed to plate Harward on a sacrifice grounder to make it a 10-4 game. But the rally ended with the Vikes’ next at bat when Carden struck out, stranding runners on the corners. While Union Pines left 12 runners on base in the game as a unit, Hill did praise the effort he received from the bottom third of his lineup.
“Great job by Ryan Gilmore, Andrew Harward and Noble Davis tonight,” said Hill. “We worked especially hard all this week on a good approach and those guys bought into it — that is why they had six of our eight hits. So those three guys did a wonderful job and if you would have told us we would have had five hits from the bottom-third of the lineup before this one started, I would have liked our chances tonight.”
Union Pines, the second seed from the Cape Fear Valley Conference and the 2012 CFVC co-champions, closed the season with a record of 16-9.
R H E
McMichael 0 0 5 2 0 3 2 — 12 11 0
Union Pines 1 0 0 0 2 9 x — 5 8 7
Biggs and D. Gore (6); N. Collins, Allred (3), Breasseale (4) and T. Davis (7) WP – Biggs LP – Collins; Leading hitters – (M) L. Martin 3-4, HR, 2B, 3 R, 3 RBI, S. Shreve 2-3, 2 2B, 2 R, RBI, 3 SB, H. Foulks 2-4, R, RBI, SB, Gore 2-4, 2 RBI. (UP) N. Davis 2-3, 2 RBI, Gilmore 2-3, R, Harward 2-3, R, RBI, BB.
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