“The pitch was just meat to me,” said Ray of the 2-1 pitch delivered by Saks’ Austin Knight. “It was just right down the middle.”
Ray started the game on the mound and pitched five innings, giving up just one earned run while striking out six batters and walking two before Zach Cunningham came on in relief to earn the save.
Cunningham no hit Saks in the final two innings, walking one and striking out two against eight batters.
“I was pleased with our pitching,” White Plains coach Chad Hudson said. “I thought we really went after them on the mound. I felt like defensively we had a let down or two that allowed them to create an inning or two where they scored but I thought we pitched real well.”
However, Hudson still was concerned about his team’s chances moving forward. White Plains dug itself out of an early 2-1 hole with a two-run, two-hit third inning highlighted by runs batted in from Tyler Jones and Jonathan Bradshaw that gave White Plains the lead for good.
White Plains (6-2) will face the winner of Monday’s late game between No. 1 Oxford and No. 8Wellborn.
“We’re a veteran team,” said Hudson of his squad that boasts five juniors and five seniors.
“We should play like it. We’re not hitting like it.”
Ray retired the side, three up and three down, in the top of the first.
Meanwhile, Saks starter junior Jessie Ginn got out to rough start, hitting three of the first five batters he faced.
Justin Turner hit a single to right off him that scored Konnor Amis and gave White Plains an early 1-0 edge. Ginn would recover, though, striking out Ray and Jones to keep things close.
Saks put two on the board in the third, scoring first on an RBI single from Josh Wilson that brought in Chris Jones, who’d reached second on an error.
Chase Johnson went up the middle to score Ginn as Saks briefly went ahead at 2-1.
A sacrifice fly from Bradshaw after a bases loaded walk put White Plains ahead again at 3-2 in the bottom of the third. Bowen added a base knock in the fourth as White Plains went up 4-2.
Saks looked to make a run at it in the fifth when speedy freshman Corpio Dennard scored from second to make it 4-3.
But Saks wound up leaving two men on base to squander the opportunity.
White Plains got a run in the fifth before Ray went yard in the bottom of the sixth and Saks came up fruitless in the top of the seventh to end the game.
“Last year, we had a really good season but this year we’ve starting off with more walks than we did last year,” Ray said.
“So, we’ve been trying to find our strike zone and everything.” If we get that going, we’re going to be good.”
Turner led White Plains, going 3-for-4, with a pair of doubles and an RBI while scoring two runs. Bradshaw was 2-for-3 with a pair of RBIs and Bowen was 2-for-3 with an RBI and a stolen base.
Ginn went 4 1/3 innings and gave up five hits for Saks. Knight gave up five.
Wilson was 1-for-4 with an RBI. Jones was 2-for-4 and Ginn was 1-for-2 at the plate.
Nick Birdsong covers prep sports for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3575. Follow him on Twitter @birds_word.