EDEN – Victory Christian punched its ticket to the second round of the Class 1A state baseball playoffs with a 5-0 win over Appalachian in Game 2 of a doubleheader Friday.
Victory Christian captured Game 1 of its best-of-three playoff series against Appalachian 13-1 in five innings.
The Lions are 19-5 and will host Mars Hill, which swept Valley Head in another first-round series, starting next Friday.
The Lions scored four runs in the top of the fifth of Game 2, with the key hit being a two-run single by second baseman Isaac Warren with the bases loaded.
“I attempted to bunt on the first pitch but fouled it off,” Warren said. “I struck out on my first at-bat and just tried to be more relaxed in my second at-bat. I just wanted to make contact, and on the second pitch, I drove it to center field.”
Nathan Jones scored the first run of the fifth on a passed ball, and a sacrifice fly by Evan Crowe scored the fourth run. The Lions scored their first run of the game in the top of the first as Abraham Sargent singled to score Forrest Williams, who had walked.
Noah Holliday picked up the win, tossing a complete game.
“I just give the glory to God,” Holliday said. “We did what we had to do to win the game.”
Victory Christian head coach Stan Sargent said his squad was excited to pick up the two wins.
“Our pitching was phenomenal and our bats came around when they had to,” he said.
A sign it was just Victory Christian’s night came late in the second game as a ball hit by an Appalachian batter rolled foul down the first-base line. Jones, the first baseman, watched the ball rolling toward the bag and then back into fair territory. He picked it up and stepped on the bag for an out.
“It was just smart baseball,” Sargent said.
In Game 1, Abraham Sargent tossed a complete game while Jones hit a grand slam.
Sargent gave up the lone Appalachian run in the first inning as he struggled with his control, hitting two batters in the frame and walking two more.
He settled down and retired the last eight batters he faced in the game, which was called after five innings due to the 10-run mercy rule. He finished with a three-hitter and struck out eight.
“We were a little nervous in the first inning,” Sargent admitted. “After that first inning, we relaxed, enjoyed the moment and did our jobs.”
Sargent also had three hits and drove in two runs.
Jones drilled his home run just over the right-field fence in the fourth. It was his second career home run and first grand slam.
“It was pure joy, and I was so excited to see it clear the fence,” Jones said. “The wind was blowing in from right field, and it just did get over.”
Jones finished with two hits, four RBIs and four runs scored.
After falling behind 1-0, the Lions answered with two runs in the bottom of the first on RBI singles by Sargent and Lee Yeager.
Victory Christian sent 11 batters to the plate in the second, with six of them scoring.
Reach Gary Hanner at email@example.com.