Baseball playoffs heat up

Published 6:47 pm Monday, May 13, 2013

Three area baseball teams will put their playoff lives on the line tonight as No. 1 Riverside hosts No. 4 South Creek and No. 5 Plymouth will travel to No. 2 Perquimans in the second round of the NCHSAA 1-A playoffs.
The top-seeded Knights (20-3) stormed through the regular season to win the Four Rivers Conference crown and now must face a solid South Creek (13-9) team that they have played twice already this season.
“It’s always hard when you face a conference team early (in the playoffs), in particularly one you’ve beaten twice,” Riverside coach Hank Tice said. “They’re a good club. (South Creek) coach Wes Hughes has done a good job with that program. They’re a good team and we have a lot of respect for them. We just have to make sure we come out with the same intensity and effort that we did against Creswell.”
Riverside began the playoffs on fire as they downed wild card Creswell 19-1 to advance.
“We saw a pretty good pitcher, he was throwing 80-83 (MPH) but we hit it well in the first inning,” Tice said. “We scored 13 runs without getting an out and we were able to put some pressure on them early.”
South Creek had a good first round as well as the Cougars upended No. 2 seed Columbia 8-1 to move on to the second round.
Riverside beat the Cougars 12-3 in their first matchup and 7-5 the second time around but the Knights know that means nothing this team of year.
The fifth-seeded Vikings will also be playing an opponent for the third time this season as they travel to face a second-seeded Perquimans team that they split with this season, winning the first time 12-7 before dropping the second go-round 16-3.
Plymouth topped Mattamuskeet 8-2 in its playoff opener and first-year coach Alan Swain is hoping that momentum from that win carries over tonight.
“I was fired up when we got the win on Friday, not all because it was my first playoff win as a coach but because of what the team has accomplished thus far and the improvements they have made since the beginning of the year,” Swain said. “This team went 1-13 in the conference last year, and now we’re in the second round of the playoffs.”
Swain said the two teams are extremely familiar with one another and that in order to advance the Vikings must execute the fundamentals.
“We have played Perquimans twice this year, we beat them at their place and they beat us at ours. We have seen pretty much all their arms and faced their hitters a half a dozen times so we have a solid report on them and should be ready for whatever they hurl our way,” Swain said. “Our pitchers need to get ahead in the count and keep their hitters off balance. We must play strong defense and have quality at-bats to enable us to manufacture some runs.”