If you are not going to the playoffs, this is the next-best thing.
With their post-season hopes having been erased last week, the North Central baseball team showed their heart in closing the season by scoring four times in the top of the eighth inning to leave Indian Land with a 6-2 victory on Monday.
The win gave Robbie Cash and company a final 7-12 mark and a 4-6 record in Region 4-AA play.
Junior right-hander Tyler Bowers went the distance for the Knights, who played 14 of the 15 players who made the trip to northern Lancaster County. The guests collected eight hits while Bowers allowed a pair to the Warriors.
"This was a great way to end the season with a big win like this," Cash said. "This was a total team effort, from our seniors who were playing their final game all the way down to the freshmen. They all made contributions for us."
The hosts started the scoring with a run in the home half of the first which NC answered with a run in the second as Cam Holley drew a one-out walk and stole second. He would score from there as Chance Mangum sent an RBI single into right field to even things at 1-1.
Trailing 2-1 heading into the sixth, the Knights knotted the game when Chase Stephens cracked a one-out single to right and moved to third on a John Bowers single. Stephens came in from third on a balk but NC left Bowers stranded at third base.
NC went down in the seventh after Tyler Steele’s two-out double was followed by a strikeout. IL had a runner on third with two outs in the seventh with Tyler Bowers getting out of trouble by getting a pop fly to right field to send the game into the eighth frame.
Stephens would open the eighth with a leadoff single to center. He moved to third when John Bowers singled on a hit and run to put runners on the corners for Holley whose single down the left field line drove Stephens home with the game-winning run. Michael Williamson then laid down a pretty bunt along the first base line for a single to load the bases. With two outs, senior Alex Tarlton drove in all three base runners with a double to the gap in right center.
Tyler Bowers ran into a bit of trouble in the eighth as the Warriors had runners on the corners before Bowers closed the game with his fourth strikeout on his 104th pitch of the night.
"That was the first time that Tyler had ever thrown more than 100 pitches in a game," Cash said of Bowers’ mound effort. "He had not thrown in over a week and he said that he felt good so, we let him go."
The Knights’ offense was led by John Bowers, Stephens and Holley with two hits each while Tarlton drove in half the visitors’ runs. The win came in spite of NC’s two leading hitters, Tyler Bowers and Stephen Barrett, being held hitless.
"It was nice to be able to win a game where your two leading hitters don’t get a hit,’ Cash said.
Night Lights: Bowers, who is committed to play at Florence-Darlington Technical College, finished the season with a .500 batting average. The junior had 27 hits in 54 at bats while hitting three home runs and driving in 19 while scoring 15 times. He was also 5-3 on the mound … Barrett, also a junior, batted at a .358 (19-53) clip with 11 RBI and nine stolen bases. The second baseman was also perfect in the field in not committing an error the entire 19-game season.