ZEBULON-A few days from now, the Fuquay-Varina High School baseball team will look back on what a successful year it had.
For now though, there is still the sting of defeat in the North Carolina High School Athletic Association’s Class 4A Championship Series at Five County Stadium.
The Bengals, who won Game One on Friday 3-2 over South Mecklenburg, held a 1-0 lead in Game Two Saturday and were three outs away from winning the championship when the Sabres rallied for a 2-1 triumph, setting the stage for the decisive third game. Fuquay then jumped out to a 4-0 lead in that game but simply could not cool off the South Meck bats as the Sabres (27-7) rallied again and won the title with a 7-4 victory, claiming the series two games to one.
“The pain will go away in a little while and they will think about it and realize they did something very special,” FV coach Milton Senter said. “I am proud of our kids for what they accomplished – their work ethic was off the chart and they were good teammates to each other.”
Garrett Suggs, who homered in the first game on Friday, was the Game Two starter on the mound and held South Meck scoreless through six innings.
The Bengals (27-6) took a 1-0 lead in the top of the seventh when D.J. Burt doubled to left centerfield, moved to third on a single by Nick Yarbrough and scored on a sacrifice fly by Nick Stuart.
But the Sabres’ dramatic rally in their final at-bat started with an infield error and a “hit and run” single to right that put runners on second and third with no one out.
After Senter brought in his top pitcher, Brett Daniels, South Meck then utilized two more bunts to bring in the tying and winning runs to force the third game.
“We probably needed to do a little more to feel comfortable, but we didn’t,” Senter said. “That was the theme of the series – we had chances and didn’t take advantage of them.”
Fuquay-Varina started quickly after the break, taking a 1-0 lead in the third game on back-to-back hits in the top of the first inning – a single by Suggs and a double by Lucas Scott – as well as a sacrifice fly by Daniels.
The Bengals added three more runs in the top of the second for a 4-0 advantage. Stuart singled and Brian Mitchell walked. Two outs later, a sure third out on a grounder to second resulted in a throw that pulled the South Meck first baseman off the bag, loading the bases. Scott’s single to right field was misplayed, allowing all three runners to score.
The Sabres erased Fuquay’s momentum with four runs in their half of the second on four hits and a sacrifice fly, tying it at 4-all.
After starting pitcher Austin Wynn got out of a bases-loaded jam with a double play, South Meck took the lead for good in the bottom of the third on a leadoff double, a sacrifice fly and a single, making it 5-4.
The Sabres added two more runs in the bottom of the fourth on two hits, a hit batsman and a walk, making it a three-run cushion.
Fuquay had its chances to score more, but the Bengals left two runners on (Daniels and Stuart, who both singled) in the fifth, a runner in the sixth (Joe Williams, via a walk) and one in the seventh (Daniels had a single). The Sabres ended the series with a double play, their third of the decisive game.
The teams combined for six errors in the field in the first game, but the Bengals were able to rally from a 2-0 deficit to win.
Suggs’ homer – his second leadoff blast in the past three games – pulled the Bengals within a run after the first inning.
Fuquay tied it in the fifth when Burt walked, stole second and scored on a double by Daniels. The Bengals then took the lead in the sixth when Stuart doubled and his courtesy runner JaMarcus Burt scored when a fly ball to left with two outs was lost in the lights.
Starting pitcher Jordan Bissette allowed no hits over the last six innings, went the distance with a three-hitter. He struck out four, walked two and hit two.