A lone run in the top of the first inning was the difference-maker as No. 3 Midway was edged 1-0 by visiting No. 14 Whiteville in a pitchers’ duel in the first round of the NCHSAA 2-A state baseball playoffs Tuesday.
“We pitched pretty well and played defense pretty well,” said first-year Midway coach Justin Carroll. “We just couldn’t get a hit when we needed one. We had runners there. Just their pitcher did a great job. He really filled up the zone and mixed in his off-speed really well. Hats off to Whiteville. Their a much better team than their record says, for sure. They did a great job.”
Senior right-handed starter Dawson Wiggins was the pitcher of record for the Raiders (13-2), giving up one earned run on two hits and two walks, with eight strikeouts across five innings. Senior right-hander Sawyer Sutton pitched one inning, giving up no runs on no hits and two walks, with three strikeouts. Senior left-hander Christian Hairr pitched one inning, giving up no runs on no hits, with one strikeout.
Senior Jacob Allgood was one out away from a complete game shutout for the Wolfpack (10-4) before having to exit the game due to the pitch count rule. He pitched six-and-two-thirds innings to earn the win, yielding no runs on four hits and one walk, with 12 strikeouts. Junior Fisher Soles pitched one-third of an inning, yielding no runs on one hit and one walk, with one strikeout.
Sophomore Casey Culbreth had two hits, including a double, to lead Midway and Wiggins, senior Jonathan Cooper and junior Nate Smith had one hit apiece.
Allgood had one hit and one RBI, junior Ty Lawson had one hit and junior Bud Baldwin had one run scored for Whiteville.
In the top of the first inning, Baldwin drew a one-out walk, stole second and took third by tagging up on a flyout to center from Tyler Hammond before scoring on a base hit from Allgood.
With Midway down to its final out in the bottom of the seventh, Wiggins drew a walk and Culbreth doubled to put two runners in scoring position. But Soles came back with a strikeout to end the game.
“Just one of those things where you can’t get a hit when you need it,” Carroll said. “Their bullpen guy did a great job, too. Our guys never gave up, never quit. Just some tough breaks in there.”
The loss sees the end of the high school baseball careers of Jonathan Cooper, Sawyer Sutton, Dawson Wiggins, Christian Hairr, Hunter Gainey and Colin Avery.
“I just told them we appreciated everything,” Carroll said. “They’ve worked as hard as any team around. They made it super easy on me in my first year. I never had to deal with any headaches or anything like that. They’re all Midway guys. They always will be. They all did an outstanding job all season. Good leaders, great kids and great people, more important than anything.”
Carroll is pleased with the underclassmen that will be returning for Midway and the talent that will be coming up from the junior varsity level and believes they will continue the success the program has seen.
“Hopefully they’ll remember how this one hurts a little bit,” Carroll said. “We have some guys in some key spots that are coming back, so we hope to build our culture and our program on what these senior guys leave behind.”
Whiteville travels to No. 6 First Flight, which defeated Midway’s East Central 2-A Conference fellow member, No. 11 East Duplin, 6-5, Tuesday, in the second round on Thursday.