Knights fall in fourth roundPublished 8:45pm Thursday, May 23, 2013
The Riverside baseball team’s postseason run came to an end on Wednesday as the Knights lost a tough fourth round matchup to defending NCHSAA 1-A East champions Voyager Academy 5-3 on the road.
Riverside (22-4), the No. 1 seed from the Four Rivers Conference and No. 2 ranked 1-A team in the state according to the Impactbaseball.com poll, held a 2-0 lead after five-and-a-half innings of play and clung to a 3-3 tie midway through the sixth before the Vikings rallied for two runs to advance to the East Regional round of the playoffs.
“It was just a typical fourth round ball game,” Riverside coach Hank Tice said. “Both teams played well. We played a good team. All year long this team has responded well and they went out there with the attitude to win. We had a lead for a couple of innings and we were right there the whole game. We just couldn’t pull it off.
“Words can’t say how proud I am of this team. This has been one of the most fun seasons I’ve ever had coaching. Our players and assistant coaches have worked their rear-ends off all season.”
For the third straight season the Knights worked their way into the fourth round of the playoffs and for the second year in a row they lost to Voyager (21-4, Carolina 12) and its star pitcher Chad Sykes.
Last season, Riverside fell in a 1-0 heartbreaker but this time around the Knights were able to strike first and put some pressure on the Vikings.
Sykes, Voyager’s mid-80’s throwing ace, and Riverside’s Kyle Leggett, who entered the game with a perfect 13-0 record, were hot early as each team was held scoreless for the first three innings.
That changed in the fourth as Mathen Ange led off the inning with a double before being driven home on a Lawrence Smith RBI single to take a 1-0 lead.
The Knights attacked again in the fifth as Ryan Wagner singled and moved up to second on a past ball, setting the stage for a Brandon Chesson RBI single and a 2-0 advantage.
“The dugout was going crazy,” Tice said. “We were excited … but (Voyager) came out swinging the bats in the fifth and sixth and we couldn’t hold the lead.”
Sensing their season was slipping, the Vikings rallied for three runs in the bottom of the fifth to go up 3-2.
Riverside took one last swing at the defending East champs, scoring a run in the top of the sixth when Ange raced home from third and scored thanks to an intentional rundown created by Smith at first base.
Voyager responded with two more runs in the home half of the inning to reclaim the lead.
The Knights ended the season with a 22-4 record and Tice credited his players’ attitudes for making this year a great one.
“It was just all about chemistry,” Tice said. “You hear the word chemistry all the time in athletics and this team defined it by how much they liked each other, trusted each other and loved the game of baseball.
“You hear East Carolina (football) coach Ruffin McNeill say the word love so many times and the word love kind of defined this team. We used it every day. It’s tough, I felt bad for all those kids in a uniform (Wednesday) night. It was one of the harder postgame speeches that I had to go through in my years.
“It’s tough when you see high school kids cry. When you see that and the way they played and you see their reaction after the game, you realize how fortunate and lucky you are to be the baseball coach at Riverside High School.”
Riverside 000 111 0 — 3 6
Voyager 000 032 x — 5 8
WP: Chad Sykes; LP: Kyle Leggett
Hitting: R — Mathen Ange 2-3 (2B), Zach Howell 1-3, Ryan Wagner 1-3, Brandon Chesson 1-2 (RBI), Lawrence Smith 1-2 (RBI).