LAURINBURG — The Fighting Scots are hoping the third times the charm in their bid to beat Pinecrest. In order to get their shot at redemption against the Patriots, the Scots had to get past Hoke County in the first round of the Sandhills Athletic Conference tournament.
No. 5 Scotland traveled to Raeford on Tuesday after losing a coin toss to No. 4 Hoke during seeding since the two teams finished the season with 8-6 conference records.
The Scots jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the third as a walk to freshman Stewart Evans brought in senior Daly Marcano, who had reached on a single. The Scots loaded the bases with a single by Tyler Faulk and Austin Norton getting hit by a pitch.
Hoke starting pitcher Logan Goins got a visit from head coach Jamie Coleman and got out of the inning with a strikeout to Donovan O’Donnell and a fly out by Zac Phillips.
The Bucks responded with three runs in the bottom of the first, which started with an error by Faulk on an infield chopper hit by Hoke’s Kobe Locklear. A single to left by Jamison Cummings and a walk to Ryan Taylor loaded the bases for Hoke. A single by Travis Locklear tied the game at 1-1 before a fly out by Will Bryant scored a second run and an error on Evans in the field on a hit by Kody Russell brought another run across the plate.
Marcano got out of the inning on a fly out by Ben Chavis, but the Scots found themselves down, 3-1.
Scotland got one run back in the top of the second on a fielder’s choice hit by Tyler Faulk that scored Nic Callahan from third, who had reached on a single to left.
The teams went back and forth exchanging runs in the third inning, which gave Hoke a 4-3 lead through the top of the fifth. The Fighting Scots tied the game in the fifth as Callahan drove in pinch runner Davon Ratliffe, who was running for Zac Phillips, on a single to center. After a walk to Matt Sellers, Hoke called timeout and put in senior Jamison Cummings to pitch.
The game remained knotted 4-4 as Marcano and Cummings found their grooves on the mound. In the top of the seventh, Scotland made its move.
Senior Trey Armstrong started the inning with a lead off single up the middle. Catcher Storm Graham laid down the bunt to move Armstrong to second and reached first on an errant throw to first by Hoke.
Callahan, once again, came to the plate and was a difference maker. The Scots sophomore hit a single up the middle to score Armstrong from second and give the Scots a one-run lead. Sellers laid down a beautiful bunt that rolled to Cummings, who miss handled the ball, to load the bases.
Scots head coach Chad Hill took a chance and called the squeeze play with Marcano at the plate and Michael Johnson on third running for Graham. Maracno laid the bunt down in front of Hoke’s entire infield, just far enough away from the baseline to score Johnson and give himself enough time to reach first.
Faulk drew a walk which brought in Callahan from third and gave the Scots a 7-4 lead. Evans drove in a run on a high chopper to left that cleared the outstretched glove of Hoke’s third baseman. O’Donnell drew a walk to score Marcano and end Cummings night on the bump.
Coming on in relief for Hoke was Ben Chavis, who struck out Armstrong, on his second plate appearance on the inning, and Graham but the damage was already done as the Scots took a 9-4 lead into the final half inning.
Hoke started their final at bat with a single to left by Cummings before Marcano struck out Taylor. Goins nearly hit one out of the park on a double to the left center-field wall to score Cummings. Marcano struck out Locklear before hitting his pitch count.
The Scots senior threw six and a half innings allowing six runs off seven hits with three errors, two walks and nine strikeouts.
Norton came on in relief and gave up one run on a fly out to right that should have been caught by his defense. The Scots junior closed out the game with a ground out by Russell.
The win advances Scotland to the second round of the SAC-8 tournament where they took on No. 1 Pinecrest in Southern Pines on Wednesday. If the Scots pull of the upset of the No. 1 seeded Patriots they will face the winner of No. 6 Purnell Swett/No. 2 Jack Britt in the championship game on Friday at 7 p.m., with the highest seeded team hosting.
Amber Hatten-Staley can be reached at 910-506-3170 or [email protected]