Tigers fall short of state title

Stephanie King

Saturday did not end well for the Tiger faithful as Randleman dropped games one and two in the best of three state championship series to the Knights of North Lincoln. Randleman entered the series as the eleventh seed out of the east region after defeating West Craven, Nash Central, Whiteville, Bunn, and Washington. Before game one Ramsey Petty was recognized as one of two winners of the sportsmanship award by the NCHSAA.

Game one was a pitching duel between the two squads as the Tigers fell 2-0 to the Knights. After two scoreless innings, Randleman gave up a pair of runs to North Lincoln on a two-RBI single in the bottom of the third inning. The Tigers had trouble getting runners on base throughout the game as everything they hit was in a perfect position for the Knights to make an out. Despite giving up two runs, Matt Kemp had a strong game on the mound for the Tigers. He went five innings and struck out eleven batters. Brooks Brannon picked up two hits in the loss for the Tigers.

With their backs against the wall, Randleman came out on fire in game two before the Knight rallied to win the game 9-7 for the title. Trey Cooper got the start on the mound for the Tigers and struck out three of the five batters he faced to start strong for the Tigers. Randleman put two on base in the bottom of the first on a single from Owen Strickland and an automatic walk by Ramsey Petty after he took a pitch to the back. Kemp picked up a base hit to score Stickland before Nick Neal loaded the bases with a walk. The final run of the inning came as Petty scored on a wild pitch. North Lincoln tied the game at two-all in the top of the second as the Tigers gave up two runs.

Randleman turned things up a notch scoring four runs in the bottom of the third to take a 6-2 lead over the Knights. With the bases loaded, Strickland scored on a fielder’s choice as Neal was thrown out on his way to first. Dominick Poole stepped to the plate for a base-clearing double that scored Dawson Edwards and Kemp. A base hit from Connor Sterling brought Poole in for the final run of the third inning. The Tigers’ lead did not last long as the Knight brought three runs across the plate in the top of the fourth to cut the lead to one.

The Tigers responded with a run in the bottom of the fifth for a 7-5  lead after Kemp scored on a single from Poole. The Knights put two runners on in the top of the sixth and scored both runners to tie the game at seven-all before holding the Tigers in the bottom half of the inning. Randleman picked up two outs right away in the top of the seven and looked to try and end the game in the bottom half, but an error shifted the momentum over to the Knights. North Lincoln scored two runs for a 9-7 lead before turning a double play in the bottom of the inning to end the game.

This was not the ending to the season the Randleman Tigers had envisioned, but they have nothing to hang their heads about. They won both the PAC-7 Conference Tournament Championship and the 2A East Regional Finals. They are one of two teams out of roughly 116 in the 2A classification to play for a state championship. This group of players and coaches have a lot to be proud of. Things may not have ended like they would’ve hoped but they gave it their all and left it all on the field.

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