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East Columbus wins state high school baseball championship

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Click here to see our coverage on how East Columbus won the state 1-A baseball title.
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ZEBULON, NC (NCHSAA) -- Shortstop Derrick Bracey had two hits and two RBI to lead East Columbus to a come-from-behind 8-7 victory over South Stanly Saturday night in the final game of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association state 1-A baseball championship series at Five County Stadium.

The Gators captured the series two games to one after losing Friday night's opener. East Columbus had forced a third game with a victory Saturday afternoon, downing the Rowdy Rebel Bulls 5-1 behind pitcher Houston Barnes, who gave up just four hits.

Bracey, the Most Valuable Player of the series, helped the Gators rally from an early 6-1 deficit. His RBI single in the fourth scored Ty Freeman, who had doubled in a run, to cut the margin to 6-5.

In the top of the sixth, South Stanly extended the lead to 7-5 when Landon Fraley drove in Steven Wallace, who had two doubles in three trips for the Rowdy Rebel Bulls. But the Gators came back with three in the sixth to take the lead for good. The key blow was a two-run triple by Ben Connor.

Skylar Bowen came on to get the save in the seventh in relief of winning pitcher Hunter Smith, and the Gators ended the game with a smooth 6-4-3 double play. Health Blackmon was the losing pitcher.

Bracey, Barnes, Freeman and Taylor Stephens all had two hits apiece for the winners. Blackmon, Wallace, Jordan Starnes and Trey Mabry each had two hits for South Stanly.

East Columbus, back in the finals for the first time since 2003, finished 24-5 overall. The Gators returned all the players from last year's squad, which had no seniors and posted an 18-5 mark. South Stanly, which won the 2009 1-A title, wound up 25-11.

NORTH CAROLINA HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION

STATE 1-A BASEBALL CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES—GAME THREE

Five County Stadium, Zebulon

South Stanly 0 4 2 0 0 1 0--7 12 4
East Columbus 0 1 2 2 0 3 x--8 12 2

WP--Hunter Smith. Save--Skylar Bowen. LP--Heath Blackmon.

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See recap of game two of the series below....

Game two recap:

Houston Barnes went the distance on the mound and scattered four hits as East Columbus downed South Stanly 5-1 on Saturday in the second game of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association state 1-A baseball championship series at Five County Stadium on Saturday. Make sure you watch the Coach's Corner on Sunday on WWAY. We''ll have coverage from Friday and Saturday from Zebulon. The Coach's Corner will air at 6pm on WWAY on Sunday.

The win by East Columbus, now 23-6, evened the series and forced a third and deciding game at 5 p.m. Barnes struck out five and walked two in outdueling Landon Fraley, the losing pitcher, who fanned 11 but walked four and gave up eight hits.

East got an unearned run in the second and then got RBI singles by Taylor Stephens and Derrick Bracey in the fourth for a 3-0 lead. The Gators added two more in the fifth when Skylar Bowen tripled in Ben Jenkins, who scored three of his team's five runs, and then he scored after a runner on first was caught in a rundown and Bowen beat the throw to the plate.

South's lone run game in the sixth when Landon Fraley came across on a fielder's choice off the bat of Grayson Short. Bracey and Jenkins had two hits each for the winners while Fraley, Jordan Starnes, Russ Weiker and Tyler Ford each had singles for South Stanly. The Rowdy Rebel Bulls are now 25-10.

In Friday night's opening game of the series, East Columbus outhit South Stanly 11-2, but the Gators had a couple of costly errors and also walked seven as the Rowdy Rebel Bulls took a 3-2 victory. Russ Weiker was the winning pitcher to run his record to 14-0.

The Raleigh Sports Consortium and Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau are serving as host city sponsors for this championship series. Wendy’s is the presenting sponsor of the NCHSAA sports program.

Make sure you watch the Coach's Corner on Sunday on WWAY. We''ll have highlights and interviews from Friday and Saturday from Zebulon. The Coach's Corner will air at 6pm on WWAY on Sunday.

NORTH CAROLINA HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION

STATE 1-A BASEBALL CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES—GAME TWO

Five County Stadium, Zebulon

East Columbus 0 1 0 2 2 0 0-- 5 8 1
South Stanly 0 0 0 0 0 1 0-- 1 4 1

WP--Houston Barnes (8-1). LP--Landon Fraley (5-2).

article courtesy NCHSAA

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