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Pinecrest's Cam Bunker tracks down a grounder in the infield.

The Pinecrest baseball team opened up North Carolina High School Athletic Association 4A state playoffs Tuesday night hosting the Wake Forest Cougars in a first-round matchup. The Couguars started off strong but the Patriots were able to fire up the bats and mount a comeback to eventually win 9-3.

That Patriots will travel to Fuquay-Varina for second round action Thursday.

In the top of the first inning, the Cougars (12-2) struck first when Luke Stevenson hit a sacrifice pop fly out to center field that resulted in a runner from third scoring. Isaac Williams then helped contribute to the scoring with an RBI single to put the Cougars up 2-0 after one inning.

In the bottom of the second, the Patriots start their rally with a solo home run to center provided by Colby Wallace that breaks the lead to 2-1. In the bottom of the 4th the Patriots (13-1) got the bats going with another solo home run provided by Cam Bunker to the tie the game, Ryder Douglas then proceeded to hit an RBI single to left field, followed by an RBI double by J.D. Scarborough to give the Patriots a commanding 5-2 lead.

In the top of the fifth, the Cougars were able to bring across a run from a fielding error to make it 5-3.

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Pinecrest senior R.J. Sales pitches against Wake Forest in the first round of the NCHSAA 4A state baseball playoffs Tuesday.

The Patriots continued firing on all cylinders with another home run by Wallace, his second on the night. Pitcher R.J. Sales brought in a run with an RBI single. An error by the Wake Forest pitcher resulted in two runs scoring to put the Patriots up 9-3 heading into the last inning.

The Cougars fell apart in the seventh, despite loading the bases, as the game ended with a pop fly to seal the win for the Patriots.

Sales had a productive night on the mound striking out eight batters, walking only three and only giving up two hits in his five innings on the mound.

Wallace had a game-high three hits.

Zack is a graduate of Union Pines and will enroll at Sandhills Community College in the fall.

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