BEAR GRASS - North Duplin’s postseason run ended with a 4-1 loss to Bear Grass Charter in round three of the NC High School Athletic Association 1A playoffs Tuesday evening.
The third-seeded Bears turned three double plays, while a trio of pitchers combined to scatter five hits and log 10 strikeouts.
“We took way too many pitches, were passive, not our usual aggressive selves,” said ND head coach Colton Chrisman. “We swung at pitches way out of the strike zone. I don’t think they were the best pitchers we’ve seen all year, but they were three quality arms. When they can come in with fresh arms that have lively fastballs, that’s gonna help them.
“We just did not play our game.”
Sixth-seeded North Duplin (18-4 overall) hit into rally-killing DPs in the first, third and sixth innings. The first two occurred with one out on the board, but Bear Grass turned the last one with no outs and the bases loaded.
Down 4-0 through five innings, Hunt Pate started the Rebels’ sixth with a single to left field. He advanced to second on a passed ball and took third after Bears’ reliever Shane Lanier issued back-to-back walks to Kyle Smith and Austin Duff.
Lanier coaxed Tyler Johnsey into a slow dribbler and gunned down Duff at second. Johnsey was thrown at first as Pate crossed the plate.
“We had a chance to bust it open,” Chrisman said.
Lanier threw a 1-2-3 seventh to earn the save and send Bear Grass into the eastern semifinals for the first time since 2019.
“Give credit to Bear Grass, they’re a gritty team,” Chrisman said.
Pate ended the night 2-for-3. Duff, Johnsey and Landen Kelly contributed one hit apiece. The Rebels left four runners on base.
Right-hander Erik Rosas endured the mound loss. He surrendered four runs (two earned) on seven hits and sat down two BG hitters on strikeouts.
“He did well, but honestly, he struggled to find the zone a little bit…didn’t have his usual strikeout stuff,” Chrisman said. “They put a lot of hard balls in play. There were times that we didn’t make the routine play. When you drop pop flies and don’t field the routine ground ball, that’s going to hurt you.”
Gavin Lee tossed two innings of one-hit, three-strikeout relief.