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OXFORD – Falls Lake Academy used smart baserunning and timely hits late in the game to defeat the Franklin Academy Patriots 7-1 on April 17 at Granville Athletic Park.
The Firebirds went on top with Drew Fletcher’s solo shot over the right-center field fence and held that lead going into the fourth inning.
Keyon Green drew a walk to start the home half of the fourth inning and advanced on a wild pitch. Green stole third and was ready to score.
Falls Lake Academy coach John Fletcher called for the suicide squeeze play. Green took off toward home plate, but the batter pulled back the bunt attempt at the last minute. Green was in a pickle and was eventually chased down and tagged out.
“We did not execute the squeeze play well. We practice that particular play over and over again, but it is different with a real live situation,” Fletcher said. “You never know how the other team will react to the play.”
Franklin Academy tied the game a 1-all in the top of the fifth inning. Fletcher huddled the team together and told them to relax.
“We knew one run was not going to win this game,” Fletcher said.
Colson Teal went to a full count before watching ball four sail high and wide. Teal got a huge lead and stole second with Fletcher in the batter’s box. The Franklin Academy staff decided to intentionally walk Fletcher rather than giving him the opportunity to hit the ball.
Teal tested the Franklin Academy pitcher on the throw to second. He saw the opportunity to steal third and took off. Fletcher broke toward second on the play. The Patriot catcher fired the ball toward third base, but the bullet was off the mark. Teal tagged third and headed home with Fletcher right on his heels. The Firebirds had a 3-1 lead heading to the sixth inning.
Jacob Borden continued to work hard on the mound for the Firebirds and held the Patriots in check in the top of the sixth inning.
The Patriots sent a new pitcher to the hill in the bottom of the sixth inning and he got off to a rocky start issuing a walk to Colin Johnson. Trey Nuckles singled to advance Johnson to second. Chase Hester doubled to drive in Johnson and move Nuckles to third.
The Firebirds continued to rock the third Patriot pitcher with Chase Edwards delivering a double to score Nuckles and Hester for a 6-1 lead. Fletcher and Borden drew walks to load the bases. Edwards scored on a fielder’s choice.
The Firebirds held a 7-1 lead with Drew Fletcher heading to the mound to close the game. Fletcher faced four batters in the top of the seventh inning and struck out two.
Borden was the winning pitcher for Falls Lake. He faced 22 batters, scattered three hits and struck out seven Patriots.
Statistics — Trey Nuckles (2-for-2, RBI), Chase Edwards (1-for-3, RBI, 2B), Drew Fletcher (1-for-1, RBI, HR), Chase Hester (2-for-3, RBI, 2 BB), Colson Teal (RBI) and Jacob Borden (1-for-3).
The Firebirds have a 8-1 overall record and stand in first place in the North Central Conference with a 5-0 record.
“It has been hard to gauge how well we are playing,” Fletcher said. “We have had so many games rained out and we have not been able to practice as much as I would like because of the weather.”
The Firebirds will play a doubleheader against Oxford Prep today and host Voyager on Monday and East Wake Academy on Tuesday.