Three days after suffering its first loss of the season at East Duplin, Midway’s varsity baseball team avenged that setback on Friday night with a 3-1 win at home against the Panthers to reclaim sole possession of first place in the East Central 2-A Conference.
“They were as upset after that loss as I’ve ever seen a team,” said Midway coach Justin Carroll. “They worked as hard as they have the past two days to make sure it didn’t happen again. They did an outstanding job from top to bottom. Everybody did a real great job working hard in practice the past two days.”
Left-handed senior Christian Hairr started the game to record the win for the Raiders (9-1, 7-1 ECC), giving up no runs on six hits, two walks and two hit batters in six innings. Senior Sawyer Sutton pitched the seventh to record the save, yielding one earned run on no hits and two walks, with two strikeouts.
“Christian Hairr had a great game,” Carroll said. “He doesn’t really overpower any folks. He just finds a way to get outs. He’s been great for us all season and finds a way to get it done. He’s a competitor. Same thing with Sawyer. He came in and struggled a little bit, but he kind of found his groove and had two big strikeouts for us at the end of the game.”
Carroll also credited the defense behind his two pitchers as a major factor.
“Casey (Culbreth) is as good a center fielder as I’ve seen at the high school level and Colin Avery is a good up the middle,” Carroll said. “We really have a great defense. Our pitchers feel really comfortable with the defense behind them. They’ve done a great job.”
Sutton had a hand in all three of Midway’s runs, driving in two and scoring one. He tallied two hits, including a triple, two RBIs and a run scored to lead the Raiders.
Grant Barefoot had a double and one RBI. Colin Avery had a double and a run scored. Dawson Wiggins had a double. Nate Smith had one hit. Caden Wilson scored once.
Nick Cavenaugh had two hits to lead the Panthers (6-3, 6-2).
Midway got on the board early when Sutton led off the bottom of the second inning with a triple and scored when Barefoot followed with a double.
In the bottom of the fifth, Avery doubled and Wilson drew a walk. They both advanced on a wild pitch and scored on a base hit from Sutton.
In the top of the seventh, Zach Brown and Brady Johnson each drew walks and advanced on a ground ball from Cavenaugh. Brown then scored on a balk, which put Johnson on third. Sutton rallied with a pair of strikeouts to end the game.
Midway travels to conference and Sampson County rival Clinton on Thursday. The Raiders beat the Dark Horses, 7-0, when they met at Midway on May 17.