LAURINBURG — The Fighting Scots baseball team can’t seem to shake the first-round playoff curse.
In 2015 and 2016 the Scots were eliminated from the North Carolina High School Athletic Association’s 4A playoffs on walk-off hits in the first round. Last season, the Scots advanced to the second round on a walk-off squeeze play before being knocked out in the second round by J.H. Rose.
On Tuesday, the Fighting Scots season came to an end in the first round against South Mecklenburg in six innings. The No. 19 seeded Scots traveled to Charlotte to take on the No. 14 seeded Sabers and left their offense at home.
The Sabers bested Scotland 11-1 in six innings and will take on No. 3 Myers Park in the second round on Saturday.
South Meck jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the bottom of the third inning before sophomore Nic Callahan scored the Scots only run in the top of the fourth on a single by junior Zac Phillips. Callahan was one of three Scots to have hits including Phillips and senior Daly Marcano.
The Scots other base runners included junior Tyler Faulk, sophomore Matt Sellers and senior Donovan O’Donnell who all drew a walk. In total, the Scots left 10 runners on base.
As much as the Scots struggled offensively, six fielding errors also sealed the team’s fate. On the mound, Marcano threw the first three innings before fellow senior Grant Burleson came on in relief.
Marcano allowed six runs off five hits with three errors and two strikeouts before Scots head coach Chad Hill replaced him with Burleson.
Burleson tossed 1 2/3 innings allowing two runs off two hits with a strikeout before his night was over. Sophomore Michael Johnson and freshman Lane Roberson finished out the game. Johnson allowed three runs off three hits with two walks while Roberson allowed one walk.
South Mecklenburg plated three runs in the bottom of the fourth and two in the bottom of the sixth to activate the NCHSAA mercy rule, which ends the game after one team goes up by more than 10 runs after five innings.
Scotland finished the 2018 season with a 15-11 overall record and 8-6 in conference play. The Fighting Scots finished in a tie for fourth place with Hoke County in the SAC-8 standings.
The team loses pitchers Daly Marcano, Grant Burleson and Matthew Hyatt to graduation along with outfielders Davon Ratliffe, Donovan O’Donnell and third baseman Trey Armstrong.
Marcano and Hyatt will continue their baseball careers at the collegiate level after signing with Southeastern Community College in Whiteville and Coker College in Hartsville, S.C.
The Scots return the majority of their starting line-up in Matt Sellers, Nic Callahan, Zac Phillips, Storm Graham, Austin Norton, Tyler Faulk, Stewart Evans and Bryce Byrd along with pitchers Michael Johnson, Jackson Purcell and Lane Roberson.
Amber Hatten-Staley can be reached at 910-506-3170 or [email protected]