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Some perennial powers and some relative newcomers to the finals in North Carolina high school baseball will be trying to add hardware to their trophy cases this weekend in the 90th annual North Carolina High School Athletic Association state baseball championship series.
The 1-A and 4-A series will get underway on Friday at Doak Field at Dail Park on the campus of North Carolina State University, while the 2-A and 3-A will get their series going on Friday at First Horizon Park in Greensboro, home of the minor league Greensboro Grasshoppers. All the series are best-of-three games.
In 4-A action at Doak Field, Scotland (27-3) will battle South Caldwell (29-4) for the title. South Caldwell beat highly touted North Forsyth in the Western Regional series, rallying from a game down.
The Spartans are led by junior pitcher-designated hitter Madison Bumgarner, who is hitting .411 with 12 homers and 37 RBI while posting an 11-1 mound mark with a sparkling 0.80 ERA.
Scotland, in its third championship appearance all-time and first since 1994, has a potent offense keyed by the bats of Nick Liles (.477, 14 stolen bases) and Ryan Norton (.471, 10 stolen basis). Derrick Lowery (10-1, 1.41 ERA) is the Scots’ ace pitcher.
The 1-A series will also be held at N.C. State, sending Chatham Central (25-6) against West Columbus (27-2) in the first game there on Friday. Chatham Central was the 1-A runner-up a year ago to Farmville Central and has two previous state baseball crowns while West Columbus is enjoying its first visit to the finals in 36 years.
Chatham Central’s Seth Kivett was the Yadkin Valley Conference Player of the Year, batting a whopping .506 and is also an outstanding pitcher with a 10-2 mark and 1.64 ERA. West Columbus knocked off Manteo in the Eastern Regional series to advance.
At First Horizon Park, the first game on Friday will start the 2-A series between defending state champion North Lenoir (28-2) and East Bend Forbush (27-4).
North Lenoir, winners of 17 of its last 18 games, gets strong play both at the plate and on the mound from Sthil Sowers. Sowers leads the team in homers and RBI and is also 11-0 as a pitcher with an 0.41 ERA in 67.2 innings of work.
Forbush has a school record 27 wins and is making its sixth straight playoff appearance but first trip to the finals since 1970. Junior pitcher-outfielder Corey Norman is the Falcons’ top player, as he was the Mountain Valley Conference Player of the Year. He is batting .436 and also sports a 10-0 pitching mark with a 1.25 ERA.
The 3-A series features Greenville D.H. Conley (22-6) against Jamestown Ragsdale (28-3). Conley won the 4-A title a year ago but has moved to 3-A in the new realignment.
Once again Conley is getting great play from pitcher-infielder Alex White. The 6-4 senior is batting a whopping .513 with 12 homers and 32 RBI and also is the ace of the pitching staff (9-0, 0.52 ERA, 117 strikeouts and just six walks in 67.2 innings of work).
Ragsdale will counter with Mid-Piedmont Conference Player of the Year Trevor Mullins. Mullins is unbeaten on the mound in 15 decisions and has a 1.72 ERA to go with a 355 batting average.
NORTH CAROLINA HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION
2006 STATE BASEBALL CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES—90TH ANNUAL
all series best of three
CLASS 4-A: DOAK FIELD AT DAIL PARK, NORTH CAROLINA STATE UNIVERSITY, RALEIGH
SCOTLAND (27-3) vs. SOUTH CALDWELL (29-4)
Game 1: Friday, June 2 at 8 p.m.; Game 2: Saturday, June 3 at 2 pm; Game 3: if necessary, Saturday, June 3 at 7:30 pm (5 pm if no third game in 1-A)
CLASS 3-A: FIRST HORIZON PARK, GREENSBORO
GREENVILLE D.H. CONLEY (22-6) vs. JAMESTOWN RAGSDALE (28-3)
Game 1: Friday, June 2, 8 pm.; Game 2: Saturday, June 3, 2 pm; Game 3: if necessary, Saturday, June 3 at 7:30 pm (5 pm if no third game in 2-A)
CLASS 2-A: FIRST HORIZON PARK, GREENSBORO
NORTH LENOIR (28-2) vs. EAST BEND FORBUSH (27-4)
Game 1: Friday, June 2, 5 pm; Game 2: Saturday, June 3 at 11 am; Game 3: if necessary, Saturday, June 3 at 5 pm
CLASS 1-A: DOAK FIELD AT DAIL PARK, NORTH CAROLINA STATE UNIVERSITY, RALEIGH
WEST COLUMBUS (27-2) vs. CHATHAM CENTRAL (25-6)
Game 1: Friday, June 2 at 5 pm.; Game 2: Saturday, June 3 at 11 am.; Game 3: if necessary, Saturday, June 3 at 5 pm
Event: 90th annual NCHSAA Baseball Championships
Date: June 2-3, 2006
Site: Doak Field at Dail Park, North Carolina State University (1-A, 3-A); First Horizon Park, Greensboro (2-A, 4-A)
First Held: 1914
Qualifiers: Eastern and Western champions meet for state title in best two-of-three series; 32 schools initially qualified for playoffs in each classification
Defending champions: Greenville D.H. Conley (4-A), Southern Alamance (3-A), North Lenoir (2-A), Farmville Central (1-A)
Of Interest: D.H. Conley won the 4-A title last year but has moved down to 3-A in the new realignment.
Host City Sponsors: Raleigh Sports Consortium and Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau for games in Raleigh; the Greensboro Grasshoppers, the Greensboro Sports Commission, and the Greensboro Area Convention and Visitors Bureau for games in Greensboro