BURLINGTON, N.C. – The Topsail Pirates shook off a tough start to game one of the NCHSAA 3A Baseball State Championship series storming back from three runs down to beat Marvin Ridge 6-3 and take the lead in the best-of-three series. After a shaky first inning of work that saw him give up three runs on five very hard hit balls, Topsail starting pitcher Payton Rice shut down the Maverick attack only allowing one more hit in his final six innings of work, and no more runs.
Rice was nearly flawless in the final six innings of the game, striking out five batters on the night and only allowing four more base runners after the opening frame. His nice recovery allowed time for the Topsail offense to find their footing in the game against Marvin Ridge starter, Jake Kuchmaner, and four Marvin Ridge errors on the night helped the Pirate’s cause.
Trailing 3-0 in the top of the second, the Pirate got a leadoff single from Chase Riker who advanced to third on a throwing error off the bat of the next batter Garrett Myrka. The error left men at second and third with no outs and Riker came home on a wild pitch to break the ice for the Pirates. Myrka came around to score on the second Maverick error in the inning, trimming the Marvin Ridge lead to 3-2.
The Pirates struck for three more in the top of the third when Bryce Cota worked a leadoff walk followed by a Sam Hall single. Riker bunted the runners over into scoring position and Myrka delivered a one-out RBI single to tie the game at 3. Then Colby Emmertz laced a two-out double to left plating two more runs and giving the Pirates a lead that they would not relinquish at 5-3.
Topsail tacked on another run in the sixth as Josh Madole doubled before coming around to score on the fourth error in the game by the Mavericks. The game stopped for a one hour and 48 minute rain delay with two outs in the bottom of the sixth, and when it resumed, Rice cruised to the victory.
Game two of the 3A Baseball Championship Series is scheduled for 11:00 a.m. Saturday at Burlington Athletic Park.