CPL: HiToms make playoffs on final day of season
The HiToms were going through the motions Monday evening in the regular season finale against Asheboro.
While they were taking on their West Division foe, High Point-Thomasville had one eye on what was happening with Florence. The RedWolves were having a doubleheader against the Fayetteville Swampdogs. A win in either game would put the Tommies in the playoffs. Word was passed down in the fourth inning that the RedWolves had won the first game and the HiToms were into the postseason. The Copperheads took advantage of the distraction, slithering by for a 6-4 win.
“It was a tough game to coach and play,” said Chair City skipper Austin Love. “I know our guys were involved and wanted to win, but we knew it was out of our hands. The guys were not 100 percent locked in knowing the situation.”
The win for the Copperheads actually put them into a tie with the HiToms in the overall record, but High Point-Thomasville had won the season series between the two and got the playoff berth.
Asheboro went up 2-0 in the third inning. Anthony Marks took home on a double steal, then Anthony Bossart dropped in a single to left that brought in J.D. Whetsel.
While the HiToms cut the deficit in half on a Glen Batson RBI double, the final of the Florence game was posted to the Coastal Plain League website. It did not take long for the players to know what the outcome was.
“We kept up with the Florence game for a while and they were able to win and help us out,” said Love.
A big fourth inning by the Copperheads provided the run support needed to claim the night. They scored three times, turning a tight game into a 5-1 advantage.
With the good news circulating, it seemed to relax the Tommies in the fifth inning. Following a James Fowlkes walk, Ryan Hodge smoked a triple to the right-center field gap for the RBI. He was promptly singled in by Logan Taylor to narrow the gap to 5-3. The HiToms went in order from that point on to end the inning.
With the score at 6-3 in the eighth, the HiToms had a rally going as they loaded the bases with nobody out. Pete Guy brought a run in the painful way, taking a pitch off the wrist. He would stay in the game. Garrett Lovorn masterfully worked his way out of the jam, striking out two of the next three batters. His wild pitch nearly cost the team a run, but Alec Paradowski was tagged out on the relay from the catcher back to Lovorn.
The HiToms brought the tying run to the plate twice in the ninth but could not get a key base hit.
“We barreled three or four baseballs that were not hits tonight,” said Love. “Hopefully against Florence we can find the barrel and have some big hits to overcome their pitching and defense.”
The best-of-3 series will begin today at Finch Field. Games two and three will be at Florence on Thursday and Friday. Chase Cunningham is expected to toss the first game for the HiToms.
Batson finished with three hits against the snakes.
Sports Editor Zach Kepley can be reached at 888-3631, or firstname.lastname@example.org.