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Some of the top players and teams in North Carolina high school baseball will be trying to add hardware to their trophy cases this weekend in the 92nd annual North Carolina High School Athletic Association state baseball championship series.
The 1-A and 2-A series will get underway on Friday at UNCG Baseball Stadium on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, while the 3-A and 4-A will get their series going on Friday at Five County Stadium in Zebulon, home of the minor league Carolina Mudcats. All the series are best-of-three games, and each of the teams in the finals survived best-of-three regional championship series.
In 4-A action at Five County Stadium, Greenville Rose (26-3) is returns to the finals with four state titles since 1997. The Rampants will take on second-year school Ardrey Kell of Charlotte.
Rose has a potent offensive team, led at the plate by Michael Spruill (,447) and Daniel Boyd (.411). Mark Wilder is unbeaten in 13 decisions on the mound and has a 1.90 ERA in 70 innings of work. Ardrey Kell is enjoying a great spring, since its women’s soccer team and men’s tennis teams both qualified for state championships last weekend. The Knights are 28-4 but all four losses came in the final at bat.
Ryan Stetson leads the Knights at the plate (.450, 6 HR, 35 RBI) and Jordan Darnell was the Southwestern 4-A Player of the Year (.411, 5 HR, 27 RBI, 9-2 on mound with 1.56 ERA).
Rocky Mount seeks its first baseball state championship since 1980 in the 3-A series as the Gryphons (25-5) battle East Rowan (28-3). Rocky Mount sports a team batting average of .326, led by Brian Goodwin’s red-hot .482 mark, and the pitching staff has a collective ERA of 1.60. Jim Leggett is the all-time pitching victories leader at the school with 27 and is 7-3 this year with a 1.37 ERA.
East Rowan had a 22-game winning streak at one point this season and the Mustangs are going after their first state title since 1995. Corbin Shive is 11-2 with a 1.90 ERA and Cody Laws is unbeaten in nine decisions with an 0.90 ERA to give the Mustangs some great pitching. Micah Jarrett is hitting .416 with 6 HR and 32 RBI to pace East at the plate.
At UNCG Baseball Stadium, the first game on Friday will start the 1-A series in a battle between perennial power Cherryville (22-7) and Hampstead Topsail (24-6).
Cherryville is making its eighth trip to the NCHSAA finals since 1980 and has earned six state titles, but this year the Ironmen started slowly and were 1-4 in the early season. Cherryville is led by Southern Piedmont Conference Player of the Year Seth Freeman, who is batting .417 and is also 8-2 on the mound with a 1.76 ERA.
Topsail is riding a 10-game winning streak into its first trip to the finals and beat defending 1-A champ Princeton in two straight in the Eastern Regional series. Brock Jaeger is the leading Pirate at the plate at .414 and pitcher Thomas Jones, a UNC-Wilmington signee, is 8-2 with an 0.63 ERA.
The 2-A series also pits a team in its first final, the Panthers of Orange, against perennial power East Rutherford, which has won four of the last six state championships.
Marquis Riley, the Mid-State Conference Player of the Year, leads Orange with a sizzling .457 batting average and six homers. Ryan Walker is the mound ace with a 9-1 mark and 1.49 ERA. East Rutherford will counter with North Carolina signee Seth Baldwin (.394, 9 HR, 36 RBI) who also owns a 5-3 mound mark for veteran coach Bobby Reynolds.
The Raleigh Sports Consortium and Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau are serving as host city sponsors for the Raleigh games. The Greensboro Sports Commission is assisting with the games in Greensboro. Wendy’s and the Carolina Ford Dealers are the presenting sponsors of the NCHSAA sports program.
NORTH CAROLINA HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION
2008 STATE BASEBALL CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES—92nd ANNUAL
all series best of three
CLASS 4-A: FIVE COUNTY STADIUM, ZEBULON
GREENVILLE ROSE (26-3) vs. CHARLOTTE ARDREY KELL (28-4)
Game 1: Friday, May 30 at 8 p.m.; Game 2: Saturday, May 31 at 2 pm; Game 3: if necessary, Saturday, May 31 at 8 pm (5 pm if no third game in 3-A)
CLASS 3-A: FIVE COUNTY STADIUM, ZEBULON
ROCKY MOUNT (25-5) vs. EAST ROWAN (28-3)
Game 1: Friday, May 30, 5 pm.; Game 2: Saturday, May 31, 11 am; Game 3: if necessary, Saturday, May 31 at 5 pm
CLASS 2-A: UNCG BASEBALL STADIUM, UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA AT GREENSBORO
ORANGE (25-3) vs. EAST RUTHERFORD (22-9)
Game 1: Friday, May 30, 8 pm; Game 2: Saturday, May 31 at 2 pm; Game 3: if necessary, Saturday, May 31 at 8 pm (5 pm if no third game in 3-A)
CLASS 1-A: UNCG BASEBALL STADIUM, UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA AT GREENSBORO
HAMPSTEAD TOPSAIL (24-6) vs. CHERRYVILLE (22-7)
Game 1: Friday, May 30 at 5 pm.; Game 2: Saturday, May 31 at 11 am; Game 3: if necessary, Saturday, May 31 at 5 pm
Event: 92nd annual NCHSAA Baseball Championships
Date: May 30-31, 2008
Site: UNCG Baseball Stadium, University of North Carolina at Greensboro (1-A, 2-A); Five County Stadium, Zebulon (3-A, 4-A)
First Held: 1914
Qualifiers: Eastern and Western champions meet for state title in best two-of-three series; 64 schools initially qualified for playoffs in each classification
Defending champions: 1-A: Princeton; 2-A: East Rutherford; 3-A: Pikeville Charles B. Aycock; 4-A: South Caldwell
Of Interest: Chad Flack of East Rutherford was the 2-A series Most Valuable Player in both 2002 and ’03 and now is a standout at the University of North Carolina, one of the top ranked teams in the country this year. His high school is returning to the finals.
Host City Sponsors: Raleigh Sports Consortium and Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau (Raleigh games); Greensboro Sports Commission (Greensboro games)