LAURINBURG — Scotland’s baseball season seemed to be summed up in seven innings Friday, as Lumberton rallied to score three runs in the final frame and win 5-4 in a dramatic end to the regular season.
All three of Lumberton’s runs in the inning came with two outs. Justice Sampson changed the game when he singled to right field to score two runners and tie the game at 4-4. Then Alex Merritt came up to bat when a pitch from Scotland’s Grant English got away from catcher Sam Gray, rolling into foul territory and giving Oxendine the opening he needed to slide into home base for the go-ahead run.
The win puts Lumberton into a tie for second place with Pinecrest at 7-3 in the Southeastern Conference. A coin toss will determine who receives the second seed in the conference tournament. Coach Paul Hodges said the Pirates had an aggressive mindset towards baserunning Friday, which ultimately paid off in the seventh inning.
“We told them we couldn’t play for one, we had to play for two. Our main thing that we told them out here is just try to get baserunners and be aggressive on the bases every chance we get. If there’s a ball in the dirt, whatever, let’s gamble and take the extra base,” Hodges said.
For Scotland, it was another close loss in a game that got away from them. Everything that has gone wrong over the course of the season for the Scots seemed to happen again in the final inning on Friday. The first two batters from Lumberton reached base on an error and a walk and another batter was hit by a pitch.
The Scots end their disappointing regular season with a 4-6 mark in the SEC. They now must win the conference tournament to make the playoffs. They will play Purnell Swett on Tuesday at 7 p.m., although a coin toss is required to determine where the game will be played since both teams are 4-6 in the conference and split the regular season series.
Scotland started to put together a rally in the bottom of the seventh when they got runners on first and second with no outs. However, the Pirates turned a double play to end the threat. Scotland coach Jamie Coleman said the Scots’ fielding mistakes ultimately cost them.
“We’re just not finishing. We played a solid six innings and then had a breakdown defensively in the top of the seventh,” Coleman said.
The Scots will practice Monday before starting the elimination tournament.
“Right now we’ve got a one-game season and hopefully we can extend that to Wednesday … The past is behind us and we can’t do anything about it now. We’ve got to press on, flush that and get ready for Tuesday,” Coleman said.
Evan Odum picked up the win in a complete game for Lumberton. He struck out five batters while walking one and allowing eight hits.
“Odum did a great job tonight,” Hodges said. “We switched up about the middle of the game and instead of going away we started going in on the batters, and he had a little bit more success hitting his spots.”