Uwharrie slugs to first game win in regional final series

RCS will look to even the series Thursday at home

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ASHEBORO --- The Uwharrie Charter baseball team did something that no one else has done for the last three weeks -- hit Roxboro Community School pitching.

The Eagles erupted for seven runs in the third inning and rolled to a 12-2, five-inning romp in the first game of the best-of-three 1A West region series Tuesday in Asheboro.

RCS will look to even the series Thursday when the teams meet in game two. First pitch is set for 7 p.m. at Optimist Park.

For the Bulldogs to even the series and force a deciding game three, they’ll have to figure out a way to quiet Uwharrie Charter’s potent bats and get back to doing what has carried them in the four previous playoff games, according to RCS coach Pete Tuck.

“It’s a good thing it’s a three-game series because we did not show up tonight,” Tuck said. “We laid a big, fat egg tonight, simple as that. For the first time in a long time, probably since the (second) Voyager game which is about a month ago, I saw us fold when we had a little adversity. I reminded them about the Mitchell(first-round playoff) game when we got a lead, booted it around a little bit and Mitchell got the lead. We bounced back. We’ve got to bounce back. This is a heck of a team, a heck of a team, but we can play with them. Tonight, when things went bad, we felt sorry for ourselves instead of competing. That’s not going to do it in this stage.”

The Eagles got to RCS ace William Leonard and chased him out of the game after bringing 11 batters to the plate in the third inning. It matched his shortest outing in a start this season after a two dynamite performances in wins in the first and third round. He tossed 70 pitches and would be eligible to pitch in game three Saturday, if necessary.

The inning began with Leonard striking out leadoff hitter Colby Hammer on a check swing called third strike, but the pitch got away from catcher Josh Wade and went all the way to the backstop. The ball got stuck in padding on the wall behind home plate, allowing Hammer to reach safely.

After a sacrifice bunt by Tyler Campbell, third-place hitter Colyn Grissom ripped an RBI liner to left to score Hammer and give the Eagles a 3-2 lead.

It was just the beginning.

Two batters later, Bryson Hamlet hit a towering two-run homer well over the 20-foot high fence in right field and started a stretch of six consecutive hitters to reach base. In the third inning, Uwharrie Charter had five hits and took advantage of two Bulldog errors.

“He made some really good pitches,” Tuck said. “We had the leadoff guy, and if the ball doesn’t get stuck in the pad, we’ve got an out. We had some bad things happen, things that haven’t happened in a while and we didn’t respond accordingly, but that’s a good hitting ballclub.”

Hamlet went the distance on the mound, surrendering just four hits, while striking out six. Like Leonard, his pitch count was low enough for him to return for a possible third game Saturday.

RCS got on the board in the first inning on a two-out single by Josh Wade, but Uwharrie answered with two runs in the bottom half.

The Bulldogs tied the game in the top of the third when Michael Clayton scored on a wild pitch after a infield single to lead off the frame. Clayton reached base in all three plate appearances with two basehits on the right side of the infield, but was picked off on the bases twice.

Bryson Pleasant had the Bulldog other hit in the game.

The Eagles added a run in the fourth on a Trey Way bases-loaded walk and put the game away with two runs in the fifth, the final blow coming on an RBI single by Johnathan Weaver past a diving effort by Ian Coleman at short.

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