Bears grab state play-off berth

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 17, 2005

EDENTON – They split during the regular season.

So, Friday night one team only would advance to the North Carolina High School Athletic Association state playoffs.

Hertford County won that honor here with a 7-1 win over archrival Bertie in a baseball playoff game that determined the Northeastern Coastal Conference’s state playoff representative.

Andy Thompson pitched a two-hitter for the Bears while Heath Britt drove in four runs to secure the victory that sent HCHS to tonight’s 7 p.m. contest with South Central in the first round of the state playoffs. The Bears will host South Central.

Bertie opened the scoring Friday night with a run in the bottom of the first on a Matthew Schwab solo homer to leftfield.

The Bears responded with a run in the top of the second. Josh Lane double to left-centerfield and scored on a Britt single to center. Gary Porter walked before Roger Harrison was hit by a pitch to load the bases with no outs. Falcons’ starting pitcher Schwab got out of the jam with a pair of strikeouts and a pop-out to keep the game deadlocked at 1-all.

Thompson didn’t allow a hit during the final five innings of play. After the game, he said he was pleased with the Hertford County performance.

&uot;My curveball was working tonight,&uot; he said. &uot;I kept throwing strikes. I am proud of the team’s performance. We stayed in the game and battled to the end.&uot;

The Bears scored three in the top of the third to take the lead for good.

Ryan Simmons walked, a pitch hit William Barmer and Lane had an infield single to load the bases. Simmons and Barmer scored on a two-run single by Britt and advanced on a Porter groundout. Clifton Smallwood was hit by a pitch to reload the bases and Lane scored on a bases-loaded walk to give HCHS a 4-1 lead.

In the fifth, Hertford County scored when Simmons doubled to left and scored on a Lane RBI-single to right to give the Bears a 5-1 advantage.

HCHS added a run in the sixth when Ryan Matthews reached on an error, went to second on a wild pitch, and third on a Barmer single. He scored on a Britt RBI-groundout to give Hertford County a 6-1 lead.

The Bears scored their final run in the top of the seventh stanza.

Clifton Smallwood had an infield single, but was thrown out at the plate on a Thompson single. Thompson went to third on a Matthews single and scored on a Simmons RBI-base hit to secure the 7-1 win.

Thompson went seven innings for the win, allowing one run on two hits while striking out 14. Schwab suffered the loss.

&uot;Andy pitched a great game for them,&uot; Bertie skipper Randy Whitaker said. &uot;He kept us off balance.

&uot;We came out flat and had no intensity,&uot; he added. &uot;They came out and got up on us. We just didn’t hit the ball.&uot;

HCHS skipper Chris Towell echoed those thoughts.

&uot;Andy threw the game of the year for us,&uot; Towell said. &uot;This win means a lot to us. We battled through injuries. We are a young team and we made the state playoffs. We got great pitching and timely hitting tonight.

Hertford County improved to 5-16 while Bertie dropped to 5-20.