Six Tri-Nine baseball teams took the field on Friday night, and a
majority of them won. Four conference teams in all will be playing in
the second round, scheduled for Wednesday. Even fifth-seed Lee County,
which needed a win on the last night to get into the playoofs, and
1- Holly Springs 4, Person County 0
Carlos Rodon got the start for the Golden Hawks (18-5) and didn't disappoint. The Rockets were shutout — the fifth Holly Springs opponent held scoreless this year. Carlos Rodon led the way in the one-hitter and picked up the win. Mike Roach homered. In the next round, Holly Springs will host Wakefield.
2- Middle Creek 2, Hoke County 8
The first round of the baseball playoffs were full of upsets, and this is the only one that ended the year for a Tri-Nine team. Hoke County was the fourth-seed in a talented Southeastern Conference, and they upended the Mustangs (19-7) in a road win.
3- Athens Drive 6, Leesville Road 5
Athens Drive came back to score five unanswered runs to overcome an early 5-1
deficit and advance past Leesville at home on Friday. Chris Williams (pictured above) picked up the win, which means in all likelihood Blair Betts will get the call on Wednesday against... well, keep reading.
4- Green Hope 3, Wakefield 4
The Falcons' red-hot tear at the end of the season didn't quite translate over to the playoffs. Green Hope (13-11) held a 1-0 lead at the end of three and a half, but was down three heading into the final inning. The Falcons got two runs but it wasn't enough on the road. Wakefield will move on to face Holly Springs.
5- Lee County 14, Millbrook 4
I know Lee isn't in our "coverage area" but how 'bout those Yellow Jackets repping it for the Tri-Nine. Aside from Smithfield-Selma's stunning loss to Wilmington Laney, this was the biggest upset in the East. It's not enough that Millbrook is good (they were a fourth-round team last year and the back-to-back Cap-7 champs) but Lee beat them by the mercy rule after five innings! Huh? Lee will play at Richmond
County in the next round.
WC- Apex 9, Durham Riverside 0
Easily the biggest upset — well, it wasn't easily the biggest upset. That honor goes to SSS, my favorite to win the East, losing in the first round to Laney. The next biggest upset was Millbrook falling to Lee. So, as weird as it seems, wild-card Apex knocking off the PAC-6 champs and their N.C. State-bound pitcher D.J. Thomas is only the third-best upset. And guess where Apex will travel next? That's right — Athens Drive.
We can end the debate on what Triangle conference was the best. The Greater Neuse went 1-4. The Cap-7 went 2-2. The PAC-6 went 0-4 (do the math and that's 3-10 combined). The Tri-Nine's 4-2 mark easily punks all three. But that doesn't mean it was the best conference in the East. The Mideastern Conference (that's Wilmington schools plus Greenville Rose and New Bern) gets that award after going 4-1 and the Southeastern Conference was close behind at 3-1 (Pinecrest, Richmond County, Hoke County... only loser was 2-seed Lumberton).