After a 5-3 loss to Wilmington Ashley dashed the state championship hopes of the Fighting Scots, coach Tommy Britt’s post-game message wasn’t one of disappointment.
“I told them to hold their heads high and not let this final game spoil the great season they’ve had,” he said. “We have zero to be ashamed of, and bottom line I’m proud of this team.”
Their game against the Ashley Eagles came down to the final at-bat, but an uncharacteristic amount of mistakes dug a hole too deep for Scotland to mount the comeback.
After an RBI single off the bat of Shane Sheppard in the first inning, the Fighting Scots found themselves in a position that they rarely faced throughout the season: allowing the opposing team to strike first. And the Eagles nearly created a two-run cushion in the next inning after a line-drive single from Christian Wolfe sailed to right field with a runner at second. But as base runner Eric Eason made a mad dash to home plate, Scotland right fielder Kyle Riccard launched a one-hop into the waiting glove of catcher Jeremy Osteen who made the successful play at the plate.
It was one of three plays at the plate in the game. The second would be more controversial.
In the top of the third inning, a wild pitch from Scotland’s Tim Chavis gave Wilmington Ashley catcher Chance Sheppard the window to score from third base. A quick recovery and throw from Osteen found Chavis who covered home plate as Sheppard made his sliding attempt. Sheppard was called safe, spurring Britt to emerge from the dugout to argue with the umpire. The call would stand, and two batters later a throwing error would score another Eagle run. After a 1-2-3 bottom third, the Fighting Scots found themselves down three runs heading into the middle innings.
In a game where Scotland committed seven errors, three came in a fourth inning that was perhaps the most nightmarish of the Fighting Scots’ entire season. The Eagles would add two more runs this inning, and both came on Scotland fielding errors. The capacity home crowd sat stunned as the Fighting Scouts faced a 5-0 deficit, but Scotland wouldn’t go down without making things interesting.
After a cold start to the postseason, first baseman and pitcher Curt Britt came alive offensively Friday night, going 3-3 with a walk and a lead off hit in the bottom of the fourth inning. Chavis would reach first on a fielding error two batters later, and catcher Dakota Graves would make the most of a rare plate appearance on the next at-bat, hitting a 2-RBI double to chip away at Wilmington Ashley’s lead.
Fifth inning singles for Tuesday night’s hero Derek Barnes and Blake Bennett put two runners on for Britt, who produced in the clutch moment as he has his entire Scotland career. Britt would notch a double that scored Barnes, but a sliding Bennett would be tagged out at home plate to end Scotland’s fifth inning momentum.
Adorned in their rally caps in the bottom of the seventh inning, The Fighting Scots watched as the top of their batting order came to bat for one last stand. Second baseman Daniel Walters led off with a single, and Britt would register his third hit of the game to put Walters at third base and bring the go-ahead run to the plate. But it was not to be, as Scotland would strand two runners on base as the season came to an end.
The Fighting Scots finish their season with a 24-3 overall record.