SPIVEY’S CORNER — Thanks to a seven-run bottom of the fifth inning, Midway is headed to the Eastern Championship.
The Raiders trailed a hot-hitting Randleman Tigers squad 4-2 headed into the fifth, but big hit after big hit rattled the Tigers. Midway cut the lead to 4-3 on a single by Austin Hardison, then took the lead on a two-run single by Drake Strickland. Midway then loaded the bases, and the next three runs were walked in. Cody Baker scored the last Raider run in on a passed ball, and Midway lead 9-4 entering the sixth.
Randleman was able to get a run back after Troy Spell tried to make the turn for a double play, but ricocheted the throw off a Tiger base-runner’s helmet, throwing the ball off course.
Midway had a huge rally late, but did not get off to the start that they wanted to. Dylan Hardison who has been brilliant in the playoffs thus far, struggled early and was not finding the strike-zone. Some errors by the Raider defense didn’t help his cause, and Randleman was able to score 3 in the top of the first inning on just one hit, but three walks.
Taylor Calcutt pitched what could have been his best game of the year on the mound. Calcutt took over the pitching duties in the top of the second, and pitched the remainder of the game. Calcutt hit two batters on inside curve-balls, but other than that was really in a groove, finding his spots. He allowed 2 runs on 4 hits, and struck out six batters. Calcutt’s last strike-out sealed the deal for Midway, and the celebration had begun in Raider Country.
“Taylor pitched a heck of a game,” said Midway’s head coach Jason Fussell. “We started out flat. When we finally got the bats rolling, things started happening for us, but we weren’t able to make anything happen a couple of innings before when I thought we should have.”
Drake Strickland has been an unsung hero for the Raiders in the playoffs so far. Strickland does nothing flashy at the plate, yet is 6 for his last 11 with key at-bats in key moments. Strickland also continues to make key defensive plays, taking away base-runners and hits from opponents. “Drake has probably been our biggest boost this season. Bringing him up has really helped us out, with his bat and with his glove,” said Fussell.
Offensively for Midway, Kyle Hawley was 2-2 with an RBI double; Tyler Pope was 2-4; Matt Barefoot was 1-3 with an RBI; Drake Strickland was 2-3 with 2 RBIs, and Austin Hardison was 1-3 with an RBI.
Midway is now in a three-game series with North Lenoir. The first game of the series is scheduled to be played at Midway Tuesday evening. The rest of the game dates, times, and locations are to be determined.