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RMA baseball's season ends

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Rocky Mount Academy's Woodall Rose bites his jersey and returns to the pitcher's mound following a throwing error which allowed a run to score Tuesday during the game against Greensboro Caldwell Academy in the NCISAA 2-A semifinals at Rocky Mount Academy.

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By SAMUEL EVERS
Sports Writer

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Trailing by four runs heading into the fifth inning, two back-to-back, two-out hits by Rocky Mount Academy drove in three runs, and suddenly there was life for the Eagles, who where playing at home in the NCISAA semifinals on Tuesday.

And the momentum continued, seemingly, when RMA pitcher Woodall Rose came up clutch with a strikeout of a Greensboro Caldwell Academy player for what appeared to end the top of the sixth.

But on the swing-and-miss, the pitch hit the ground before being secured in the catcher’s glove, and while the Eagles were running off the field, batter Cliff Helton was running to first.

Rose rushed to the ball and threw to first, but it was an overthrow, and rather than a shot at tying a one-run game in the bottom of the sixth, a runner already on had scored while the ball was in right field. Another scored later in the inning, and GCA used the unexpected spark to hold on for the 8-5 win.

The loss for the Eagles ended their season a game short of the state championship series, which in-town rival Faith Christian will be a part of after beating Coastal Christian at home later in the day.

“I respect Woody trying to make the play. He pitched a great inning and he was going all out to end the inning. It’s one of those things, I can’t be mad about that,” RMA coach Cam Ramsey said. “That inning really did take the wind out of us. You finish that inning and everyone’s coming in pumped up.”

As Ramsey pointed out, Rose struck out the side that inning. He also went 1-for-1 with two RBI, a walk and a sac bunt.

“Woody made a huge pitch in a big time situation like he did all year,” said the coach. “We just couldn’t make the play.”

GCA jumped out early in the game with a three-run first inning, again aided by two RMA errors. The Eagles answered back in the bottom of the inning with a two-run rally started by a single by Colby Freeman.

But GCA tacked on another in the third and two in the fourth, before completing its scoring in that unfortunate sixth inning.

Will Stewart pitched the first four innings for RMA, letting up six runs but only three earned, and Rose pitched the next three. On offense, the top-five hitters gathered seven hits and every RBI, but the bottom four finished 0-for-12.

Overall, said Ramsey, it just wasn’t enough to earn a spot in the state title series.

“They put the ball in play No. 1-9 much better than we did. We got outplayed. We knew they were a good baseball team and they played like it,” he said.

The season ends at 14-4 for the Eagles, who lost their starting shortstop in Isaiah Thomas before the season started and still managed to secure the tournament’s No. 1 seed for the first time in school history.

That was the message from Ramsey after the game -- that a season two losses short of a state title doesn’t mean a failure.

“I’m sure a lot of people probably counted us out. But this group gelled so well. They enjoyed playing together and being together,” he said. “We just fell short and I hate it for them because they put in the work. We haven’t made that many mistakes defensively in a long time, but it was one of those days where it just didn’t go our way, but we had a phenomenal season.”

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