All four Union County baseball teams participating in the state playoffs were victorious in their first-round matchups Tuesday night.
The highest-seeded Union County team in the 3A bracket, No. 7 Cuthbertson, cruised past No. 10 Asheville at home Tuesday, 12-3, thanks to a huge fifth inning and a solid pitching performance from senior Brandon Hudson.
The Cavaliers (13-2 record), champions of the Southern Carolina Conference, scored the first run of the game in the bottom of the first on an error and extended the lead to 3-0 in the third on a double by senior John Newton and a sac fly from senior Connor Gasser. After Asheville scored its first run in the top of the fourth, Cuthbertson answered with an RBI double from senior Bennett Wolf to push the lead to 4-1.
Asheville scratched across two runs in the top of the fifth to cut the lead to 4-3, but the Cavaliers exploded for six runs in the bottom of the frame to put the game out of reach. After Newton reached on a leadoff double, sophomore Thomas Paxton singled to bring him in. A double from senior Connor Higgins, a pair of errors and a RBI single by junior Chase Ketner extended the lead to 10-3.
Ketner finished 2-for-4 with two RBI and a run scored, while Newton was 2-for-4 with two doubles, one RBI and three runs scored. On the mound, Hudson — an N.C. State commit — allowed five hits and three runs (two earned) while striking out eight in 6.0 innings.
The Cavaliers return to action Thursday night, when they travel to face No. 2 St. Stephens on Thursday. St. Stephens defeated Jesse Carson 3-2, in the first round Tuesday.
Sun Valley 7, Southwest Guilford 1
A four-run first inning was all the Sun Valley baseball team needed to take down Southwest Guilford, 7-1, on the road Tuesday night. The Spartans (12-3) outhit the Cowboys, 12-5, on the night.
After loading the bases with two outs in the top of the first, Sun Valley scored its first runs on a two-run double by junior Jacob Budzik. The next batter, senior Matthew Watson, ripped a single to right field to score two more runs and extend the lead to 4-0.
Southwest Guilford, which entered the game undefeated (14-1 final record), scored its lone run in the bottom of the fourth on a wild pitch. After a scoreless fifth inning, Sun Valley extended the lead in the sixth on an RBI single from senior Brandon Butterworth and a two-run double from senior Greg Bello.
Three Spartans totaled two RBI in Tuesday’s game — Watson, Bello and Budzik. On the mound, senior Derek Vartanian, junior Carson Sanner and junior Mason Tinsley combined to allow five hits and one run (zero earned) while striking out eight.
Sun Valley faces No. 3 East Rowan (13-2) in the second round Thursday. If the Spartans are victorious, they will play the winner of St. Stephens and Cuthbertson on the road Saturday.
Marvin Ridge 2, Northwest Cabarrus 1
Marvin Ridge needed extra innings to upset higher-seeded Northwest Cabarrus, 2-1, on the road Tuesday night. The hero of the night was junior Jacob Terwilliger, whose solo home run in the top of the 10th inning proved to be the difference.
The Mavericks (11-4) fell behind early Tuesday, as Northwest Cabarrus (10-5) took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first on an RBI double. Marvin Ridge eventually answered back in the top of the third on a sac fly from senior Miller St. John.
The next six innings went by without much offense by either team, but Northwest Cabarrus almost won the game in the bottom of the eighth. With two outs, the Trojans drew a walk and used a single to put runners on first and third. However, Mavs sophomore reliever Matthew Gross forced a popup to end the scoring threat.
After Terwilliger’s home run in the 10th, senior pitcher Gavin Rowland came on and struck out two of the three batters he faced to earn the save and deliver his team the win. Gross was credited with the win after allowing two hits and zero runs while striking out four batters in 4.0 innings. Senior Elliott Kerry started on the mound for MR and allowed four hits and one run while striking out three across 5.0 innings.
The Mavericks will now face No. 4 T.C. Roberson (14-1) in the second round Thursday. T.C. Roberson defeated Mount Tabor, 12-0, in the first round Tuesday.
Porter Ridge 9, Ardrey Kell 5
In the first round of the 4A tournament, Porter Ridge defeated Ardrey Kell, 9-5, at home. All the scoring came in two innings, as the Pirates (13-2) scored five runs in the second and four in the third, while the Black Knights scored all their runs in the third inning.
Porter Ridge, which won the Southwestern Conference, jumped out to a 5-0 lead after two innings thanks to an error, a three-run triple by sophomore Caleb Gant and an RBI single by junior Jake McGillivary. It didn’t take long for Ardrey Kell to tie the game, however, as a pair of RBI singles and a three-run home run knotted the score at 5-5.
The Pirates pulled ahead for good in the bottom of the third. After senior J.H. Vaughn led off the inning with a triple, Porter Ridge scored its final four runs on two separate errors. Earning the win for Porter Ridge on the mound was senior Blake Efird, who threw a complete game. Efird allowed seven hits and five runs while striking out six.
The Pirates will hit the road for the second round, when they take on No. 2 McDowell (13-1) Thursday night. McDowell defeated No. 15 Olympic, 5-1, in the first round Tuesday.
THURSDAY’S PLAYOFF GAMES
No. 7 Porter Ridge at No. 2 McDowell
No. 7 Cuthbertson at No. 2 St. Stephens
No. 11 Sun Valley at No. 3 East Rowan
No. 12 Marvin Ridge at No. 4 T.C. Roberson