Fuquay-Varina High School’s varsity baseball team cleared a major hurdle on its way to a state title Friday night. In doing so, the Bengals dashed fellow Tri-Nine Middle Creek’s hopes of winning back-to-back championships.
FVHS faced off against one of its biggest rivals and came out on top with an 8-0 victory.
“We were resilient,” Coach Milton Senter said. “We stayed the course.”
The Bengals shot out in front in the second inning of the third-round playoff game with a 1-0 lead over the Mustangs after right fielder Nick Stuart was hit by a pitch and then ran the bases with the help of catcher Brian Mitchell, who took an out at first base to push Stuart to second, and third baseman Jordan Bissette, who doubled on an almost homerun to center field.
But stealing the show was pitcher Brett Daniels. He pitched six scoreless innings, tying the school record for most wins in a season with his 11th victory.
“The pitching was great,” Senter said. “I’m very happy with the way the kids are playing.
The Bengals broke out in the third inning, racking up five more runs. Second baseman Lucas Scott walked. But then shortstop DJ Burt took advantage of the Mustangs’ slip ups. His base hit was tipped off of a Middle Creek infielder’s glove and then overthrown to third base. Burt was almost caught at home plate after rounding the bases, but was deemed safe. Bengal fans screamed in delight.
“We preach aggressive base running,” Senter said. “I think it makes a difference.”
Daniels proved an asset on offense as well. He had a base hit that just slipped by Mustang second baseman Alex Williams. James Tudor stepped in as a designated runner and rounded the bases after Jordan Towler of the Mustangs walked Bengal first baseman Nick Yarbrough. Mitchell drove Tudor and Yarbrough in with a double deep into the outfield. Eventually, Mitchell would cross home plate as well.
The Bengals would score again in the fifth inning with a Bissette run. In the sixth inning, Fuquay sealed the deal with Daniels’ second run of the night. He sent the ball sailing deep into the outfield and caught the Mustangs’ center fielder and right fielder of guard. A balk sent Daniels to third. But a wild pitch to Yarbrough opened the door for the final run of the night.
Unlike the Bengals, Middle Creek didn’t keep much consistency on the mound. They brought in three relief pitchers in hopes to throw off the Bengals. But Fuquay proved to be on-point throughout the night.
Senter doesn’t take the win lightly.
“Middle Creek is a very formidable opponent,” he said after the Bengals’ second-round win against Leesville Road. “This is the best league in the state.
“The problem is we have to play each other.”
That’s a problem Senter had hoped to avoid until later in the post season. He doesn’t believe it is right for the Tri-Nine teams to face off so early in the bracket.
The Bengals were set to play Green Hope in Fuquay-Varina Tuesday night at 7 p.m. for the fourth round of the playoffs. Scores were not available at press time.
Contact Kelly Griffith at firstname.lastname@example.org or 919-552-5675.