For the first time since 2016, the Cherryville High School baseball team made it to the NCHSAA 1A Baseball Championship series, but the Ironmen came up short, losing the third and deciding game to defending champion Perquimmans Saturday night.
Cherryville lost the first game of the playoff series Friday night as last year's MVP Tanner Thach struck out 12 of the 24 batters he faced, going the distance as Perquimmans won 1-0.
Brayen Reynolds from CHS did a good job on the mound, too, going five innings and giving up just one run, but that was all the Pirates needed.
Everything went the way of the Ironmen in Game 2 of the series Saturday afternoon as Cherryville walked away with a 6-1 victory to even the series and force a deciding Game 3. Kanon Willis tossed a three-hitter and got the offensive support he needed. The Ironmen scored three runs in the bottom of the first inning and two more in the third to push the lead out to 5-0. Landon Hahn was 3 for 4 in the game including a leadoff triple in the first that got things started. He scored as Colling Robinson doubled to center on the next play. Cherryville scored two more as Tobias Mille slapped an RBI single down the left field line and later Nate Bookout crossed the plate on a wild pitch.
In the third inning, Kanon Willis led off with a single to left. A two-out RBI single to left center by Collin Huss extended the lead to 5-0.
Perquimmans got their only run in the fourth. Cherryville added a final run in the sixth when Collin Huss sprinted home from an RBI single to right field by Will Fowler to make the final 6-1.
Saturday night, Cherryville took a 1-0 lead on an RBI single to left field by Landon Hahn that scored Collin Huss. The Pirates answered back in the bottom half of the third scoring three runs. Two of those runs scored as a throw got away from the catcher and allowed two runners to cross the plate, giving Perquimans a 3-1 lead.
Perquimans had another three-run inning in the fifth to stretch their lead to 6-1.
In the fifth inning, Cherryville threatened to score, but with one out and two on base, the Pirates brought back the game one winner, Thach, to shut the Ironmen down. He struck out Will Heavner and ended the inning with a pop-up from Will Fowler. In the Cherryville sixth, Perquimans turned to Tanner’s younger brother Mason Thach, a freshman with a five-run lead. He got the initial out, but Cherryville loaded the bases on a walk and two errors.
That's when the Perquimans Coach, Justin Roberson, brought the elder Thach, who had moved to first base, back to the mound. Collin Huss singled home a run through the left side and Hahn added an RBI groundout to make it 6-3 going into the seventh.
Perquimans stuck with Tanner Thach for the start of the seventh inning despite him nearing the maximum pitch count for the weekend. He managed to get the first two men he faced, but Kamron Willis got an infield single, and Chase Miller drew a two-out walk, pushing Thach too near the pitch count to continue. This time Roberson turned to Jakob Meads, his Game 3 Starter, to come back in and close out the game. Meads got Tobias Miller to fly out to center to end the game, with the final score: Perquimmans 6, Cherryville 3.
While they didn't win the state championship, Cherryville finished the season 22-12; were 8-4 in the Southern Piedmont 1A/2A Conference; and this year was the Ironmen’s tenth Regional Championship.
While East Lincoln got eliminated last weekend, losing the 3A regional championship series to South Rowan, the Mustangs can take some pride that they lost to the eventual state champions. South Rowan beat South Brunswick 11-6 Saturday night to take the 3A championship for 2022.
The East Lincoln girls soccer team can also feel better although they were eliminated by Lake Norman Charter in the soccer playoffs. The Knights won the championship Saturday with a 2-0 victory over Eastern Alamance.