ALPINE — Winterboro High School’s baseball team fell to Kinston in the second round of the playoffs on Thursday afternoon.
The Bulldogs dropped the opening game of the doubleheader 8-3, and they dropped the second game 8-3 to close out the season.
Winterboro head coach Alex Johnson hopes that his players can build off the program’s first-ever appearance in the second round of the playoffs.
“It didn’t go our way, but our guys fought hard,” Johnson said. “Hopefully, we can use this for fuel in the future. We need to understand how this feels moving forward. We don’t need to let this eat at us, but we need to feel it every now and then. You want to get that itch to do to them what they did to us.”
The Bulldogs finished the season with a 12-12 record, which included the program’s first playoff series win in school history when Winterboro swept Keith in the first round of the playoffs last week.
“I asked the players at the end of the game if they thought that we would be in a situation where we could host a playoffs game, and none of them really nodded their heads,” he said. “It was really nice to be able to turn some heads not only within the community but within ourselves. We just played in the second round of the playoffs at Winterboro in a really neat atmosphere. Our fans were loud and energetic, and their fans were loud and energetic. It was a cool experience.“
In the first game of the series, Kinston was able to build a 7-0 lead by the third inning. The visiting Tigers scored four runs in the second inning to take control of the game.
Winterboro starting pitcher Jahaslam James had a rough out as he allowed six runs on seven hits in only 1 1/3 of an inning on Thursday.
“We gave them too many freebies, especially in the first game,” Johnson said. “That was the talking out to the bunch after the first game was you have to win both halves. We played really well in the second half of the first game in the last three or four innings. We scored three runs ourselves. They had one big inning, and that hurt us a little bit.”
Winterboro battled back into the game, but it proved to be too late. The Bulldogs scored a pair of runs in the sixth. Troy McKinney put Winterboro on the board as he hit an RBI single to centerfield to score Brody Hamm.
McKinney was then able to manufacture a run with his electric base running. The junior stole second and third base. An errant throw by the catcher on an attempt to catch McKinney at third sailed into the outfield, which allowed him to trout home to cut the lead to 7-2.
It was more of the same in the second game as Kinston used a four-run fourth inning to take a 7-1 lead.
The four runs in the fourth were all the run support that Hunter Hughes would need. Hughes had a solid outing as he allowed three-runs while striking out six batters.
In the first game, Cale Sumblin earned the win off the mound. Sumblin only allowed one hit and one run while striking out eight batters in 5 1/3 innings of action.
“All three of our pitchers did great,” Kinston head coach Jeb Crosby said. “They threw strikes, and they kept them off-balanced. We caught the ball when we needed to. I am proud of them. They did a good job.”
Kinston will take on the winner of Brantley/Berry next week.