Riverside ready for rematch with VoyagerPublished 7:50pm Monday, May 20, 2013
After hitting two grand slams and a three-run home run during its 15-2 throttling of Perquimans in the third round of the NHCSAA 1-A state playoffs, Riverside heads into Wednesday’s showdown with Voyager Academy as one of the hottest teams in the state.
The game was originally scheduled for tonight but the threat of rain pushed the contest to Wednesday at 7 p.m.
Riverside (22-3), the No. 1 seed from the Four Rivers Conference, has been on fire during the postseason, outscoring teams 54-11 during the first three rounds of the playoffs.
Last year’s state runners up Voyager (20-4), the No. 1 seed from the Carolina 12 Conference and home team for the matchup due to the conference priority, has been nearly as hot and has ripped off 12 straight wins with its last one being a 5-2 victory over Roxboro Community to move on.
Wednesday’s game marks the third straight time Riverside has advanced to the fourth round of the playoffs and the second straight time it will play Voyager.
Last season the Knights lost a 1-0 heartbreaker to the Vikings in a game Riverside coach Hank Tice called, “one of the hardest losses I’ve ever been through.” However, Tice and the Knights have refused to dwell on the past.
“Last year was last year. It’s a new year and a new team,” Tice said. “We just want to go there with the expectation to win.”
The pitching matchup should be an excellent one as the Knights are expected to start junior ace Kyle Leggett (13-0) — who thanks to Riverside’s offense outburst versus Perquimans only had to pitch five innings on Friday — against Vikings star Chad Sykes.
“If (Leggett) can go we’re definitely going run him back out there,” Tice said. “If not, then we’re going to give Ryan Wagner the start.”
The Knights faced Sykes during last year’s playoff bout and Tice said Riverside must be prepared for his fierce fastball.
“The guy we’re going to see throws about 86-88 (MPH) and just got offered by Duke,” Tice said. “We just have to make adjustments at the plate and shorten everything up. We have to keep pressure on their defense. If we strike out eight or nine times we’ll get beat.”
With two of the top 1-A pitchers on the mound, runs figured to be hard to come by. With that in mind, the Knights have placed a great emphasis on a starting fast.
“We talked before every game this year about winning the first inning and the good thing about playing on the road is you get a chance to hit first,” Tice said. “We want to put a little pressure on them and get on the scoreboard first.”