The Wildcats finished with the bases loaded and the go-ahead run at the plate in a third-round playoff series against a defending state champion.
“We did the polar opposite,” fourth-year coach Chad Hudson said after the Wildcats suffered a sweep Friday, losing 13-2 in five innings and 7-4 to Madison Academy. “I think we maxed out.
“We got beat by a better team (Friday night), but we fought our butts off.”
The Wildcats finished 29-6 after battling Madison Academy’s vaunted pitching tandem of Drew Mobley and Auburn commitment Stafford Booth.
Mobley cruised through the first game thanks to plenty of run support. The hot-hitting Mustangs (34-11) got four runs in the second inning, three in the third and four in the fourth and two in the fifth.
Mobley, Clayton Palicki and Jared Brinson homered, and Madison Academy pounded out 14 hits off White Plains starter Justin Turner and relievers Adam Ligenfelter and Brock Wright.
But even as the lopsided first game came to a close, White Plains gained momentum. Wright and Turner homered in the Wildcats’ final inning to score the game’s final two runs, and White Plains came out swinging against Booth in the second game.
Turner and Kyle Bowen hit RBI singles in the first inning for a 2-0 lead.
The second inning saw Jonathan Bradshaw score on a throwing error, and Wright singled home another run to put White Plains up 4-1.
The Wildcats were on top of a fastball-curveball pitcher.
“All year, we’ve been able to hit anybody’s fastball,” White Plains pitcher-outfielder Caed Turner said. “Nobody’s been able to overpower us.
“He’s definitely the best pitcher we’ve seen, velocity-wise, but we knew what we had to face. We made the best of it and just swung.”
White Plains carried a 4-2 lead into the bottom of the fourth, when starter Caed Turner began to wear down.
The senior started the second game strong, holding Madison Academy to three hits through three innings.
After Booth tripled home a run in the first inning, Caed Turner won the next two showdowns, inducing a groundout and striking the Mustangs’ star out.
But Madison Academy made Caed Turner labor through a hitless second inning, taking several pitches. He issued three walks and a hit batsman and saw several 3-2 counts.
“That was the biggest thing — they made him throw a lot of pitches,” Hudson said. “They laid off pitches out of the strike zone, and they fouled off 13 two-strike pitches over back-to-back innings.”
That began to show in the fourth inning, when Palicki smacked a two-run single and Mobley singled home another run in back-to-back at-bats.
Caed Turner worked out of the jam, but Madison Academy scored twice in the fifth — once on a wild pitch and again on a walk.
After the walk, Hudson turned to Joel Ray, who retired four of five batters he faced.
But White Plains missed on two opportunities with runners in scoring position in its final two at-bats.
Justin Turner struck out with two outs and Wright on third base in the sixth inning, and Konner Amis was a step behind second baseman Zach Adams’ throw with the bases loaded on the game’s final sequence.
“We just missed a lot of big opportunities and didn’t get the big hits,” Caed Turner said.
Booth hung in through two outs in the sixth inning, striking out nine batters.
“He was overthrowing in the first two innings,” Madison Academy coach David Converse said. “But he found a comfort zone and found that, if he changed speeds with his two-seam fastball, that he was in a better position.”
At the plate, Booth was 3-for-6 with a triple, two runs and an RBI for the doubleheader.
White Plains’ playoff run follows a season in which the Wildcats failed to make the playoffs. Hudson made a point of reminding the team that it underachieved in 2009 and used summer ball to drive the lesson home.
Caed Turner called the Wildcats’ run “a good end to a good season.”
Hudson said the coming offseason will have a different feel.
“It’ll be an offseason where we’ll look back and know we did everything we could do,” he said.