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Edenton dominates Pender in first round of baseball state playoffs

John A. Holmes 14, Pender 0

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Edenton-John A. Holmes' Ben Ward (3) is greeted by teammates as he crosses home plate after he hit a three-run home run in the Aces' 14-0 win in five innings against the Pender Patriots in a North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) 1A state playoff baseball game at Hicks Field in Edenton.

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By Malcolm Shields
Sports Editor

Thursday, May 10, 2018

EDENTON — The John A. Holmes baseball team scored eight runs in the bottom of the second inning as they cruised to a 14-0 win against Pender in five innings on Wednesday evening.

The contest was the a North Carolina High School Athletic Association Class 1A first-round state playoff game at Hicks Field.

Edenton senior pitcher Chace Kelly went five innings and did not give up a hit.

Kelly’s no-hitter marks the second consecutive season the Aces have pitched a no-hitter in the state playoffs.

Last season, Edenton pitcher Matt Benfield went seven innings and did not give up a hit in an Edenton 7-0 victory against Washington in the second round of the Class 2A state playoffs at Hicks field.

In Wednesday’s game, the Aces batted around twice in the contest against the Patriots (8-16).

“We’ve been stressing approach all year,” Edenton coach Robert Jordan said.

The coach added that he feels that the coaching staff’s preaching of approach is connecting with the club.

That was apparent in the second inning as the Aces sent 12 batters to the plate.

After the Aces took a 1-0 lead on a bases loaded infield single by Hunter Belch, Ryan White cleared the bases with a double down the left field line to put Edenton up 4-0.

“Ryan has been coming on as of late,” Jordan said. “He’s continued to work hard in practice. Ryan is starting to find his groove.”

The biggest hit of the game came from senior shortstop Ben Ward.

Ward sent a 2-0 pitch over the left field wall for a three-run home run to give the Aces a 7-0 lead.

Ward said that he changed up his approach a bit in the at-bat.

The Aces added another run in the frame on a wild pitch to go up 8-0.

Edenton sent nine batters up in the third and added three runs in the third.

One of the runs was scored on a squeeze play.

Second baseman Daquan Wilson put down the bunt to score a runner from third base.

The Aces added three more runs in the fourth.

Ward, who went 2-for-3 in the game, added his fourth RBI of the contest on an RBI single to left field to extend the Aces’ lead to 12-0.

“It’s one brick in the wall,” Ward said of the win. “You’ve got to take them one at a time. You can’t take anybody lightly.”

Jaden Bobbitt also had an RBI hit in the inning.

Kelly had more than enough run support as the Patriots only reached base when a batter was hit by a pitch in the second inning.

“It means a lot,” Kelly said of the no-hitter.

Kelly was quick to give credit to his defense.

“My defense is solid,” he said.

Kelly noted that around the third inning was when he realized he had not given up a hit.

The senior pitcher noted that he has progressed from the beginning of the season on the mound.

“My command has gotten better throughout the year,” Kelly said. “I can locate my fastball and curveball for strikes.”

Along with better command, Kelly has a stronger mindset on the mound.

Last season, Kelly played the majority of the season at second base.

Edenton (15-9), the No. 10 seed, moves on to the second round where it will face No. 7 seed Louisburg on Friday.

Louisburg (11-8) earned a bye into the second round due to having the best record among the Class 1A teams in the Northern Carolina Conference.

The Northern Carolina Conference is a split 1A/​2A league.

South Lenoir 4, Currituck 3: The Knights (18-5) were upset in the first round at home on Wednesday. The contest was a Class 2A first round matchup.

Currituck was the No. 13 seed in the region.

South Lenoir advances to the second round where they will face the winner of the first-round game between No. 4 South Granville and No. 29 seed Clinton. 

SOFTBALL

Currituck 5, Wallace-Rose Hill 2: Currituck (15-5), the region’s No. 7 seed, defeated the No. 26 seed Lady Bulldogs on Wednesday.

The Lady Knights will host No. 10 seed South Lenoir in the second round.

Princeton 10, John A. Holmes 0: The No. 23 seed Lady Aces (6-19) fell to the No. 10 seed Princeton (15-5) in the first round of the Class 1A state playoffs on Wednesday at Princeton in five innings.

GIRLS SOCCER

John A. Holmes 0, Voyager Academy 0: No. 17 Edenton (8-9-2) knocked off No. 16 Voyager Academy (8-10) 3-2 in penalty kicks to advance.

The Lady Aces will face No. 1 seed Franklin Academy (18-1-1) in the second round.

Woods Charter 6, Camden 0: No. 18 Camden (6-11-3) was shut out in a Class 1A first round match at No. 15 Woods Charter (11-10) on Wednesday.

First Flight 9, Pasquotank 0: No. 31 seed Pasquotank (3-13-2) ends its season in the first round of the 2A state playoffs at First Flight on Wednesday evening.

Second-seeded First Flight (20-2-1) will host a second-round match.

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