Pungo baseball wins big to reach quarterfinals

Published 4:21 pm Saturday, May 12, 2018

Pungo Christian Academy’s march through the NCISAA state playoffs continues, after the Raiders defeated Lawrence Academy 13-5 in Merry Hill on Thursday.

Both teams started the second round playoff game with sloppy mistakes, possibly due to nerves from playing in the postseason. In the top of the first, Lawrence Academy starting pitcher Tayloe Powell balked, allowing a Raider baserunner to take home plate for the opening score of the game. But then in the bottom of the first, Pungo committed two defensive errors, gifting two runs to the Warriors.

Raiders buckled in at that point and gradually increased their lead, inning by inning. Pungo built a 9-2 lead by the time the bottom of the sixth rolled around. At that point, Lawrence Academy’s bats came to life, scoring three runs and forcing Raider starting pitcher Miller O’Neal out of the game.

Unfortunately for the Warriors, Pungo’s Ben Simmons took the mound and shut things down, keeping Lawrence Academy from completing its rally. The Raiders responded by tacking on four insurance runs in the seventh to bring the final score to 13-5.

Nate Van Staalduinen was Pungo’s offensive leader on Thursday, recording 5 RBI on the night. Ryan Bishop did his part, scoring three runs on 4-for-5 hitting, while Brent Benson, Walton O’Neal, Wilson Sawyer and Cruz Eakes all chipped in with an RBI each as well.

Miller O’Neal picked up the win, allowing all five runs, two unearned, on five hits and collecting three strikeouts in 5.1 innings of work. Simmons registered the save, pitching 1.2 scoreless innings and striking out one Warrior

Pungo’s second double-digit victory of the playoffs moved them to the quarterfinal round, where the Raiders will take on the number one seed in Wayne Country Day. The Raiders travel to Goldsboro today to play the Chargers at 2 p.m.