“First of all, you have to thank God for allowing us to be out here and be able to play this great game,” Fayetteville head coach Morris Phillips said. “It’s always good to win the first one and put the opposing team in the corner and make them battle to win it. I’m very proud we came out and won the second game. I’m glad we were able to get up early in the first game and get some of the younger guys in. I think we run a whole new lineup on them, besides McGrady. I’m real proud for that: getting some young kids some experience in the playoffs.”
In the first game, McGrady started off the first inning by recording all three outs through strikeouts. He continued to mystify the young hitters of Southeastern, allowing only one unearned run through five innings of work while striking out 12 batters to lead Fayetteville to a 12-1 win.
“I was feeling real good,” McGrady said. “My fastball wasn’t working as good as it was, but my curveball worked great. I just kind of leaned on it today. Luckily, they couldn’t hit it and I ended up with a very good stat line.”
In the second game, McGrady led the way for the team at the plate. He went two for four and led the team with 5 RBIs for another 12-1 victory.
“I don’t know why but it seems like any time that I’m pitching, I never hit the ball good,” McGrady said. “But as soon as I got off the mound, it just seems like everything I hit falls. Every time I hit when I’m pitching, it seems like I hit it right to somebody. In the second game, I didn’t do anything different. My hits just fell and found some holes and luckily there was people on base and gave me RBI chances.”
McGrady got things going for the team in the first game by scoring the first run on a Slade Scroggins sacrifice bunt, with the throw to first sailing into right field allowing Scroggins to advance to second base. Scroggins and Levi Blanchard came around to score on a single to left field by Tyler Pennington. Zane McGrady followed that up with a deep shot to left field for a double that scored one run. Pennington scored on a wild pitch to push the Fayetteville lead to 5-0.
In the bottom of the second inning, Fayetteville added another five runs. Scroggins hit a single through the gap between third base and shortstop, then stole second base, then stole third base and came around to score on a double to left field by Blanchard. Steve Brasher hit a single to right field to score Blanchard. Hunter Garner reached base on an error by Southeastern right fielder Maurise Zamora, who dropped a fly ball. It also allowed another run to score. Zane McGrady hit a double to left field to score another run. Yet again, a run scored on a wild pitch to make it 10-0.
Southeastern’s starting pitcher reached base on an error by Scroggins at shortstop. A run came in to score on a wild pitch, making it 10-1.
Fayetteville added two more runs in the bottom of the third inning.
McGrady closed out the game the way he started it: with three strikeouts in one inning.
“He is a very good game one thrower,” Phillips said of McGrady. “He sets the tone. If you can pick up that win with him out there, it just makes it easier for your number two guy and number three guy come in and pitch. It’s easier to pitch without the pressure. He likes the pressure. He did an awesome job on the mound. He struck out 12 of the 15 outs.”
Austin Brasher got the start for the Wolves in the second game. He didn’t have the same impressive stat line as McGrady, but proved to be equally effective, throwing five innings and allowing an earned run while striking out three batters for the win.
“Austin did a really good job,” Phillips said. “The umpire had a tight strike zone that we had to adjust to and Austin did a good job of trying to adjust to it and throwing strikes and being able to keep us in the game with it. I’m very proud of him for that.”
Fayetteville once again executed a brand of small ball to put 12 runs across the plate. They put one run on the scoreboard in the first inning and came up with a four-run inning in the second. Weston Brassell and Garner took back-to-back walks, while Pennington hit an infield single on a sacrifice bunt where he wound up being safe because the first baseman came off the bag. Zane McGrady grounded out to third base, scoring Brassell at home plate. Zach McGrady hit a single up the middle to bring in two runs. Zach McGrady went on to steal second base, third base and come in to score on a botched pickoff attempt at third base.
The Wolves added another run in the third inning, while Southeastern also plated a run in the third.
Zach McGrady came through again in the fourth inning, hitting another single up the middle to score two runs, making it 8-1. Blanchard hit a deep fly ball to left field, which allowed Zach McGrady to tag from third base and score a run.
Fayetteville added three more runs in the fifth inning before Brasher got two outs and Garner came on the mound to retire the final out.
“I thought we did a real good job of swinging the bat,” Phillips said. “I’m real proud of our guys for that. We were able to play some small ball and get some bunts down, something that we haven’t had a lot of success doing this year, so that was good to have and good to get going.”
The Wolves advance to the second round of the AHSAA playoffs where they will host Region 7 runner-up Shades Mountain Christian.