Published: 12:18 AM, Wed May 02, 2012
Gray's Creek baseball drops season finale to Southern Lee, 3-2
Gray's Creek had all the trappings in place for a celebration Tuesday night, coolers full of iced drinks and hot dogs cooking on the grill.
There was just one important thing missing: A win.
Visiting Southern Lee scored two early runs and added a key insurance one in the last inning, edging the Bears on Senior Night, 3-2.
The loss left Gray's Creek in a tie for the regular-season championship in the Cape Fear Valley 3-A baseball race with Union Pines. It also cost the Bears the automatic top seed in the state 3-A playoffs.
The Bears will face Westover in Thursday's opening round of the conference tournament, and will need to go further in the tournament than Union Pines to get the No. 1 playoff seed.
Gray's Creek is 17-3 overall, 10-2 in the league. Southern Lee is 14-10, 9-3.
Southern Lee got a solid pitching effort from Connor Gates, who held the Bears hitless for four innings and allowed just four hits for the game.
The Bears' Logan Haines pitched well enough to win, but suffered the first loss of his varsity career as his record dropped to 8-1.
Singles by Gates and Derek Jackson and passed balls by Bears' catcher A.J. Brassard led to two Southern Lee runs in the second inning and a 2-0 lead.
Ken McDowell, who got two of the Gray's Creek hits, scored both Bear runs, one in the fifth and one in the seventh.
But it wasn't enough after Carlos Collazo's RBI single in the top of the seventh gave Southern Lee its third run of the game.
"I guess we weren't focused,'' McDowell said. "I guess they were worried about being in first place. I know the seniors are hurting. I'm hurting for them. It'll teach us a lesson, I guess.''
Bear coach Jeff Nance said his team waited too late. "They came up with a big hit and the extra run helped,'' he said. "We had runners on and we didn't execute. That's the way baseball is.''
Southern Lee 3, Gray's Creek 2
Southern Lee 020 000 1 - 3 7 1
Gray's Creek 000 010 1 - 2 4 0
Gates and Helsman; Haines and Brassard. W - Gates (5-3) L - Haines (8-1).
Leading hitters: SL - Collazo 1-2 (RBI), Boyette 1-3 (2B), Gates 1-3, Jackson 1-2, Gaster 0-2 (RBI). GC - McDowell 2-3 (3B, 2B), Taylor 1-3 (RBI), Brassard 1-2 (RBI).
Records: Southern Lee 14-10, 9-3; Gray's Creek 17-3, 10-2