State baseball playoffs start tonight

First Posted: 5/12/2011

LUMBERTON — For two county high schools, the baseball playoffs start today. The other three will have to wait until Friday night to begin their march to a state championship.
St. Pauls will be the first team to hit the field as the Bulldogs host Bunn at 6 p.m. St. Pauls (5-16) earned the No. 2 2A seed in the Three Rivers Conference, while Bunn (11-11) finished third in the Northern Carolina Conference.
The winner of the Bulldogs-Wildcats contest will take on the victor of the Louisburg-South Granville game. If Louisburg upsets South Granville, then either St. Pauls or Bunn would host the Warriors. With a Viking victory, the Bulldogs or the Wildcats would travel to Creedmoor.
This season’s Robeson County Slugfest runner-up will also open its postseason at home tonight. Fairmont hosts Carrboro at 7 p.m. The Golden Tornadoes are the top 2A seed from the TRC, while the Jaguars snagged the fourth seed in the Carolina 10 Conference. Fairmont enters the game with a 15-6 mark and Carrboro closed out its regular season at 11-12.
With the seeding priority going to the Mid-State Conference representatives, Fairmont would travel to Eastern Randolph for the second round if both schools are victorious. If Trinity were to upset Eastern Randolph and the Golden Tornadoes stop the Jaguars, then Fairmont would get another home contest.
“We have to hope for a higher seed to beat a lower seed,” Fairmont coach Sandy Thorndyke said of his team’s pairings. “Hopefully it will work out for us, but we have to get by Carrboro first.”
While their conference brethren get the postseason ball rolling tonight, Red Springs and South Robeson will take to the diamond Friday against their opponents at 7 p.m.
The Mustangs are the No. 2 1A seed from the TRC and will host the Pender Patriots, the fifth seed out of the Tri-County Conference. South Robeson wrapped up its regular season with a 15-6 record, while Pender comes into the contest with a 6-13 mark.
South Robeson will need some luck if it wants a home game in the second round. The No. 4 seed from the Carolina Conference, Rosewood would need to upset Dixon, the top seed in the Coastal Plains Conference, for the Mustangs to return to Rowland.
“We have to face them sometime, second round, third round, rather get it over with sooner than later,” South Robeson coach Bryan McDonald said of the potential matchup with Dixon. “We have to take care of business against Pender first.”
The Red Devils (5-16) earned the No. 3 1A seed in the TRC and will battle Jones, the No. 4 seed from the Coastal Plains Conference. The Trojans are 16-7 coming into the first-round clash with the Red Devils.
Red Springs coach Chris Howell is hoping to get into the second round when his team could face a familar foe — Midway. In last year’s 1A playoffs, the Red Devils were also a No. 3 seed and upset the Raiders, then a second seed. This time, Midway is a No. 1 seed and opens the postseason at home against wildcard entrant North Edgecombe.
“We are in a tough conference,” Howell said. “We have been in every game except one this year.”
Rounding out the area high schools participating in the baseball playoffs is Lumberton, this year’s Slugfest champions. The Pirates snagged the No. 4 seed out of the Southeastern Conference and are the only local team to hit the road in the first round. Lumberton (12-10) takes on Leesville Road. (19-3), which finished second in the CAP-8.
The Pirates, like the Mustangs and the Red Devils, need help to try and host a game in the second round. The winner of the Lumberton-Leesville Road contest will face the victory of the C.E. Jordan-Middle Creek clash. If C.E. Jordan wins, then Lumberton or Leesville Road will travel to Durham. A Middle Creek victory gives either Lumberton or Leesville Road a home game in the second round.
“I heard all of their players put the ball in play and they don’t strike out a lot,” Lumberton coach Paul Hodges said of Leesville Road.
Other first round games of local interest: TRC regular season champions East Columbus (16-4) hosts Princeton (8-15); Pinecrest (22-2), the winners of SEC regular season and tournament crowns, faces Knightdale (10-12) in Southern Pines; J.H. Rose (16-6) travels to Scotland (15-8); and Richmond (18-7) hits the road to take on Green Hope (14-8).
Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at (910) 272-6111 or [email protected]

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