Left hander Brandon Gragilla of Cornelius-Hough (20-10) scattered six hits and struck out four as the Huskies upended South Caldwell 3-2 in the third-round of the Class 4A state playoffs Friday night in Sawmills. Gragilla held South Caldwell hitless over the last three innings of the game. Hough will now play Mallard Creek (19-8) in a Class 4A Western Regional semifinal
game next Tuesday night. Mallard Creek eliminated T.C. Roberson 4-2 Friday night, snapping the Rams 16-game winning streak. It was also TCR's (26-3) first home loss since 2010.
Leading 2-1 in the top of the fifth, Hough tied the game on an RBI single by Will Champion in the fifth. Champion had three hits on the night; the Huskies scored the game-winning run in the sixth. Nick Bernado led-off with a single and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Eric Siler. Bernado scored the decisive run on a one-out double by pinch-hitter A.J. Girting. The Huskies are 5-1 in one-run games this season, and they've won four one-run decisions in a row. The two runs scored by South Caldwell (24-3) were the most allowed by Hough during that stretch. The Huskies also had Lady Luck on their side Friday night. Champion pulled in a potential three-run home run in the bottom of the third inning, and Spencer Greer's RBI double in the bottom of the fourth bounced off the top of the left-field fence and back onto the field.
Greer suffered the loss. He gave up three runs, two earned, on ten hits; he walked one and struck out six in going the distance. Jake Macchia led the Spartans with two hits.
COUGARS DEMOLISH HOUGH
The Alexander Central High softball team took another step towards its eighth state championship in school history Friday night. The Cougars (28-1) got a masterful pitching performance from winning pitcher Chelsea Wilkinson as they belted Cornelius-Hough 11-0 in a third-round Class 4A state playoff game in Taylorsville. The game was called in the top of fifth inning because of the ten-run mercy rule. Wilkinson, who has signed with the University of Georgia, tossed the 84th shutout of her career. She also helped her own cause with a two-run double in a five-run fourth inning. The Cougars, who scored three times in the first inning, will now play Porter Ridge (28-0) in a Class 4A Western Regional semifinal game next Tuesday night. The Pirates advanced by knocking off T.C. Roberson 3-0 Friday night. Wilkinson is 112-5 in her career.
TIGERS PLAY LONG BALL, DISMISS ERWIN
Fred T. Foard (22-4) advanced to the Class 3A Western Regional Friday night by knocking off Asheville-Erwin 5-0 in a third-round state playoff game in Newton. Ashley Oliver of the Tigers belted a two-run homer in the first inning; Addie Bolick added a two-run shot in the second inning. The Tigers will play Franklin (21-3) in the regional semifinals Tuesday night. Franklin advanced by knocking off St. Stephens 3-2 Friday night on Kaitlin Sanders' walk-off home run in the bottom of the seventh. The Indians finish their season at 20-8.
NORTHWESTERN 3A/4A CONFERENCE SCOREBOARD
FRIDAY NIGHT'S GAMES
CORNELIUS-HOUGH 3, SOUTH CALDWELL 2
ALEXANDER CENTRAL 11, CORNELIUS-HOUGH 0 (5 INNINGS)
FRED T. FOARD 5, ASHEVILLE-ERWIN 0
FRANKLIN 3, ST. STEPHENS 2
SATURDAY NIGHT'S GAMES
HICKORY @ ST. STEPHENS, 7 P.M.