Final Four

Published 1:52 pm Tuesday, July 18, 2017

MOCKSVILLE – Area One has one lone team still in the hunt for the 2017 Junior American Legion Baseball state championship.

Hint….it isn’t the regular season or area tournament champion.

The Ahoskie Post 102 Braves upset their Area One nemesis, Bear Grass, 8-5 here Sunday afternoon. That win advanced Ahoskie to the Final Four of the statewide tournament hosted by the town of Mocksville.

Bear Grass had defeated Ahoskie in three of their four meetings this season in Area One action, including a narrow 4-3 decision a little over one week ago in Manteo during the championship game of the Area One tournament.

However, when it counted the most at the state level, Ahoskie had the upper hand on Sunday in Mocksville.

Holding a narrow 6-5 lead heading into the top of the seventh, the Braves scored a pair of insurance runs to seal the win.

There, Ahoskie loaded the bases on singles by Spencer Simonowich and Evan Lassiter and a walk to Jordan Robinson. Tyrek Beverly’s two-run single did the damage as Ahoskie padded its lead to 8-5.

Trent Hobbs, in relief of starting and winning pitcher Trevor Lee, silenced the Bear Grass bats in the bottom of the seventh to preserve the win and earn the save.

Bear Grass held an early 1-0 lead after three innings before Ahoskie’s bats came to life in the top of the fourth. There, Ethan Hughson singled followed by Lassiter and Hunter Mitchell reaching on errors to fill the bases with Braves. An RBI squeeze bunt off the bat of Robinson plated Hughson and tied the game at 1-1, but Ahoskie wasn’t finished.

Another squeeze bunt, this one by Beverly, sent Lassiter home as the Braves took the lead for-keeps at 2-1. Hobbs followed with a two-run single for a 4-1 Ahoskie lead.

After Bear Grass plated a solo run in the bottom of the fourth, Ahoskie answered with two markers in the top of the fifth for a 6-2 advantage. Ahoskie loaded the bases again – this time on two singles (Parker Bradley and Simonowich) and Hughson reaching on an error. That set the table for Lassiter and Mitchell to smack RBI singles.

Bear Grass used a three-run outburst in the bottom of the fifth before Ahoskie sealed the win in the top of the seventh.

The Braves finished with 11 hits, led by Hobbs, Simonowich, Hughson and Lassiter all with two hits each.

Lee was credited with the win on the mound, pitching the first four and one-third innings. He allowed three runs off two hits.

Ahoskie (now 14-12 overall) was scheduled to meet South Caldwell in last night’s (Monday) state semifinals. Results of that contest will be published in Thursday’s edition.

“This is the first time an Ahoskie Legion team has reached the final four in the state,” said Post 102 head coach David Ellis. “It is something they will remember forever.

“We’ve had a blast here in Mocksville since getting here on Thursday of last week,” Ellis added. “I’m so proud of these young men. They have represented our area of the state extremely well.”