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Barons rob Williamston of the sectional title

By By BRIAN HAINES, Sports Writer
WILLIAMSTON — The Memorial Day barbecue just won’t taste the same in Williamston as the Tigers’ crushing 3-2 extra-inning loss to Gates County in the sectional round of the NCHSAA 1-A state playoffs has no doubt left a bad taste in their mouth.
With a 2-0 lead in the top of the seventh inning, No. 1 seeded Williamston was one out away from a sectional championship and a trip to Raleigh when the second-seeded ‘Robber’ Barons snatched the crown out of the teeth of the Tigers.
After the game the Williamston players staggered off the field covered in dirt and devastation as they reflected on what could have been if they could have just gotten one more out.
Williamston ace Morgan Miller dueled with Barons’ hurler Courtney Hobbs, taking a one-hitter into the seventh on the strength of a well-placed fastball mixed in with a Mickey Mouse change up that the Gates County batters could have taken three swings at before it reached the plate.
Miller quickly retired the Barons’ eight and nine hitters and, with two outs, the Williamston fans looked liked they had a reason to start the holiday weekend celebration a little early.
Leadoff hitter Alexis Sutton quieted the crowd with a two-out single, but it was her steal of second base that reduced the raucous crowd to nervous chatter.
The atmosphere grew even more tense as Jalisa Bradley removed the zero from the Barons’ scoring column with an RBI single to cut the Tigers lead in half at 2-1.
Following Bradley was Megan Askew, who had been hitless throughout the game, but changed all that with an infield single to prolong the inning, setting up Barons’ cleanup hitter Amanda Brown to knock in Bradley for the game-tying run.
With the potential game-winning run standing at third, Miller settled down and struck out Amanda Lilley to put an end to the madness.
Miller pitched all nine innings for the Atlantic Conference champion Tigers, allowing three runs and seven hits while striking out 11.
Hobbs was equally brilliant for the Barons as she allowed two unearned runs, while striking out eight batters and scattering nine hits.
After trading zeros in the eighth inning, the Barons struck again with two outs as Brown smacked a grounder just past the reach of the Tigers’ shortstop to score Bradley for the go-ahead run.
Just like the seventh inning, Miller stopped the bleeding by gassing Lilley, but the damage had already been done.
Williamston mounted a furious rally in the bottom of the ninth, managing to load the bases with only one out.
After Morgan Roberson grounded out to third, Miller and Hillary Wynne each recorded their first hit of the game, and were joined on base by Heather Jackson after she singled.
Jackson led the Tigers going 3-for-5 against the Barons.
Jackson’s hit would be the last for Williamston. Presley Roberson grounded out to Gallop, the Barons’ shortstop, who forced Miller out at the plate for the second out. After that, Samantha Smith would end the game as Hobbs’ eighth strikeout.
Presley Roberson scored the Tigers first run in the fifth when she raced home from second base on a throwing error by Brown, the Gates County third baseman.
Bailey Cowen scored Williamston’s second run as she crossed the plate in the sixth when Gallop couldn’t handle a Morgan Roberson pop up with two outs.
Hayes, whose Tigers (17-10) have been on a tear since the middle of the season, praised his squad after the game.
Gates County 000 000 201 — 3 7 3
Williamston 000 011 000 — 2 9 5
WP: Courtney Hobbs; LP: Morgan Miller
Hitter: G — Alexis Gallop 2-4 (R), Jalisa Bradley 2-3 (2R, RBI), Megan Askew 1-5, Amanda Brown 2-5 92 RBI); W — Morgan Miller 1-5, Hillary Wynne 1-5, Heather Jackson 3-5, Presley Roberson 1-5 (R), Samantha Williams 1-5, Cassie Harold, Bailey Cowen 1-3 (R).