The O'Neal varsity baseball team battled for a tremendous win over Trinity School of Raleigh in extra innings as a walk-off home run by catcher Jacob Bates gave the Falcons an 18-17 win on Tuesday at home.
Trinity held the lead until the bottom of the third inning where O’Neal tied the score, scoring two runs with walks from June Thomas and Jace Brown. After a pitching change for Trinity, the Falcons’ Jacob Shepherd hits a sacrifice fly to the center fielder for Mason Konen to score.
In the top of the fourth inning, Trinity scored with a double and again with a ground out at first base securing a two-run lead. O’Neal chipped away one run when Aaron Pavlovich scores on a fielding error at third base.
With both teams scoring, Trinity still holds the lead by two through the fifth inning. At the top of the sixth, and Brown pitching, it was three up three down for the Tigers with a strike out, a play by Brown to first baseman Mason Konen for a ground out and a fly out by Ford Grimshaw in right field. In the bottom of the sixth the Falcons took the lead 14-10.
The Tigers hit a home run to score two runs. A fielder’s choice and an error tied up the ball game after the seventh inning, 14-14. Though both teams scored, it remained a tied ball game through the eighth inning, 17-17.
The Falcons managed to hold the score at 17-17 through the ninth inning marking a notable double play by shortstop Will Slagle with a line out and throw to Konen at first. Eighth grader June Thomas made his fourth trip to the mound in the 10th inning seeing an out at first after a drop strike three, a fly out by center fielder Brown and a pick-off to short stop Will Slagle at second. With only a few minutes left until sunset entering the bottom of the 10th inning, junior Jacob Bates was leadoff for the Falcons and Bates hits a fly over the fence left of center field for a walk-off home run to win the game 18-17.
“I have never been so proud of a group of young men,” said head coach Kevin Milligan. “They were down several times throughout the game but refused to quit. Jacob Bates came through in the clutch, but he is that type of kid; he works hard every day and it is paying off. June Thomas showed tremendous guts on the mound. I put him in a difficult situation, and he responded well. The players are buying in to the program we are building. What the team is accomplishing is about far more than baseball. I am extremely happy for them!”
Konen, TJ McGraw, Brown and Thomas all pitched for the Falcons in this game. Both Thomas and Brown each secured three strike outs. Top of the line-up and freshman short stop Will Slagle held the lead in RBI’s with four. Sophomore TJ McGraw was on top with three stolen bases.
This win has the Falcons ranked as 12th among NCISAA 2A schools in North Carolina. The next game is scheduled for Friday at Burlington Christian Academy.