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WENDELL — For the first time in program history, the Corinth Holders High baseball team will play for a North Carolina High School Athletic Association championship.
The Pirates, (23-6) seeded No. 3 in the East region, clinched their trip to the NCHSAA 4-A championship series with a 6-2 victory win over Holly Springs (21-7) on Saturday night in the third and deciding game of the East regional final.
Corinth Holders won Tuesday’s first game 2-0, and lost Thursday’s second contest at Holly Springs, 5-2. The Pirates will travel to UNC Greensboro beginning Friday against Mooresville (22-9), the No. 11 seed from the West. The second game of the best-of-3 series is set for Saturday, with the third contest following, if necessary.
To reach the championship series, Corinth Holders had to overcome the unexpected loss of its scheduled starting pitcher in Landon Ginn. Ginn, a junior, experienced back tightness during warmups.
In Corinth Holders’second-round game, Ginn, who has played through back issues during the final weeks of the season, received treatment between innings. The junior ECU commit tried to play through it, but did not last long. After giving up two runs in the top of the first inning, Ginn fell to the ground during his at-bat. His day was over.
Corinth Holders head coach Adam Weaver then called on the hero of the series opener, senior Tyler Stufano. Stufano, working on three days rest, mastered Holly Springs, champions of the South Wake Conference, with a three-hit shutout in game one of the series.
“He was just like, ‘give us whatever you got’, because he knew my arm was sore,” Stufano said. “He was like give us whatever you got, if you need someone to get up after you, we’ll get you.’”
Stufano delivered again, throwing six innings of scoreless relief while giving up one hit and one walk. In 13 innings of work during the series, Stufano gave up no runs, four hits, two walks and struck out five.
“That kid is unreal right now,” Weaver said. “I asked him when we got here,’Are you good if we need you?’ He said, ‘Coach, give me the ball.’”
Stufano also took Ginn’s spot in the lineup at No. 3. Stufano hasn’t hit much all season, but in the fifth inning of a 2-2 game and two outs, the senior hit a line drive into the gap in right center to score junior Tanner Smith, giving the Pirates a 3-2 lead.
“I’ve never been known to be a hitting guy at all so for me to be able to get up there and get that hit, it meant a lot to me,” Stufano said.
The Pirates, champions of the Northern Athletic Conference, tacked on two more runs in the fifth. Holly Springs allowed one more run in the sixth inning but couldn’t get a single base runner on in the sixth and seventh inning.
Score by innings:
Holly Springs 200 000 0 — 2
Corinth Holders 100 041 x — 6
WP-Tyler Stufano 6 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 SO. LP-Sam Kulasingam 4 2/3 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 2 SO.
LEADING HITTERS — Corinth Holders: Tyler Stufano 1-3, 2B, RBI; Nick Tyler 3-3, 2B, 2 RBIs.