Pam Pack earns first baseball playoff win since 1998|Robinson brilliant on hill in 2-1 nod

Published 8:58 pm Saturday, May 16, 2009

Sports Editor

AHOSKIE — When Michael Robinson’s fastball landed in the glove of catcher Cole Hartley, the celebration was on for the Washington Pam Pack.
It capped off a thrilling 2-1 victory over the Hertford County Bears in Friday’s first round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 3A state playoffs. It marked Washington’s first baseball playoff victory since 1998.
“This says a lot about the excitement that they’re playing with right now,” Washington coach Darin Vaughan said. “We had lots of energy and the kids were excited. There were no nerves involved at all, which is a great thing.
“They were loose and fun. (Assistant coach) Doc (Austin) said it best when he said, ‘this is what it should be like at this time of the year.’”
The playoff victory came in upset fashion. The Pack (12-10) entered as the fourth seed from the Coastal Conference, while the Bears (14-9) were the top seed out of the Northeastern Coastal Conference.
Robinson certainly played a big part. He went the full seven innings, scattering six hits and striking out five, including the last two batters of the game.
“This feels amazing,” Robinson said. “Words can’t describe how this feels.
“I knew my team had my back for the seven innings.”
Robinson, who worked out of a handful of jams, didn’t walk a batter. The Pack defense also made some huge plays behind him throughout the contest.
“Michael did a wonderful job,” Vaughan said. “With him throwing the amount of strikes that he did, that was a key.
“We did play defense. We made some plays to help get us out of some innings where they could have had us on the ropes.”
The Pack scored both of its runs in the first inning. Jake Duke led off with a double into center. The sophomore eventually scored on a passed ball for a 1-0 lead.
Senior Christopher Everette drew a walk and he raced to second on a wild pitch. One batter later, Gator Moore stroked a single into left, scoring Everette.
“That’s what Jake does really well,” Vaughan said. “He sets the tone for the offense. When he was able to score on the passed ball, that really got everybody going.
“When Christopher had that great at bat, he was able to score on Gator’s hit. If we’re going to be successful offensively, that’s what it’s going to take.”
Hertford starter Brandon Warren, who fanned 10 and gave up four hits, settled down after the first inning, but the damage had been done.
“Getting those first two runs in the first inning helped a lot,” Everette said. “This feels really good. We came through and I appreciate all the guys’ hard work.”
Everette made a couple solid plays from his second base position, including a nifty running snag of a pop fly into shallow right in the fourth inning.
First baseman Justin Meekins gunned down a runner trying to advance to third base on an error in the second, while right fielder Cody House made a handful of solid plays defensively.
Hertford scored its lone run in the fifth. Warren led off with a single and he eventually scored on a single by Monterio Hunter.
Hunter had a chance to come through again in the seventh. Mitchell Godwin reached on a one-out error and a pinch-runner stole second. After Robinson fanned Tyler Pryor, Hunter stepped into the batter’s box. This time, Robinson got the better of Hunter, striking him out to end the game.
“I just tried to throw as hard as I could,” Robinson said. “It worked.”
The Pack, which also got hits from Meekins and Jimmy Hardison, plays at Wilson Fike in the second round on Tuesday. Fike (13-8), the No. 3 seed from the NEW 6 Conference, upset Charles B. Aycock, 6-0, on Friday night.
Vaughan said his team will need a better overall performance if it wants to make a serious run in the playoffs.
“We’re going to have to be better offensively,” Vaughan said. “We’re going to have to do a better job of getting on base and trying to force action.”