ZEBULON, N.C. – Holmes got a masterful performance from senior Mathew Benfield who spun a complete game, allowing just two runs, both earned, on four hits, striking out six and working around three walks. Benfield’s steady presence on the mound helped Holmes power their way to a 7-2 victory in game two of the 2A State Championship Series, earning the Aces a sweep and their first ever State Championship.
The two teams traded runs in the opening inning. Holmes got a run on a two-out RBI single by Luke Hoggard, plating Ben Ward who reached on an error, taking a 1-0 lead. R-S Central struck back in the bottom of the frame, as Jake Laughter drove in Jace Crowe who singled with two out earlier, tying the game at 1.
The Aces piled on two in the third as Ward led off the inning with a walk. Dylan Patrick, the game one starting and winning pitcher, followed that with a one out single to set the table for Harrison Powell. Powell grounded into what looked to be an inning-ending double play, but shortstop Keaton Snethen’s throw got away from the first baseman and two runs scored to put Holmes up 3-1.
Then in the fifth, Holmes tacked on three more. Patrick Downum was hit by a pitch to begin the inning. Hoggard singled to move him up into scoring position and that brought up Powell who ripped an RBI single with one away, making it 4-1 Holmes.
With runners on the corners and two outs, Nathaniel Stallings executed a perfect squeeze bunt, scoring Hoggard from third and putting the Aces on top 5-1. Stanley White roped a triple over the right fielder, scoring Powell from second and making the Aces lead 6-1.
The Hilltoppers struck back in the bottom of the fifth as Keaton Snethen scored on an RBI single by Crowe, but that would be as close as R-S Central could get at 6-2. Holmes picked up one more in the top of the seventh as Powell scored on an RBI single by Chace Kelley putting the score to the final margin.
Holmes’ Patrick was named the series MVP for his pitching performance on Friday night and 1 for 3 day at the plate on Saturday with an intentional walk and run scored.