By Kedrick Storey/Southern Sentinel
WALNUT – Falkner sophomore pitcher Wesley Murphy struck out 13 batters and eighth-grader Avery Russell had three RBIs Tuesday night to help Falkner beat Biggersville 8-1 and claim the final playoff spot in Division 1-1A.
The host Eagles (15-9, 8-4), who needed to win their final three games to make the postseason, are back in the playoffs as the No. 3 seed for the second year in a row. Last year, Falkner needed wins over its last four games to get in, then advanced all the way to a North championship.
Falkner coach Chip Johnson said he doesn’t know how far his young squad can advance, but he’s happy to have the chance to defend his North title.
“Everybody likes to get a date to the dance and we’ve got a date at Smithville,” said Johnson, who announced his retirement from coaching last week. “We’re excited to still be playing.”
The Eagles will host th e No. 2 seed on Friday in the opening round of the Class 1A playoffs, before the best-of-three series shifts to Smithville on Saturday.
Murphy, who threw over 120 pitches, scattered six hits while walking none. He got in trouble in the fifth after giving up two singles, but made a diving throw to get the lead runner and fanned the next two batters to get out of the jam. He fanned at least two batters in his final three innings of work.
Pounding the zone
“Wesley was lights-out,” said Johnson. “He came in focused and pounded the zone with strikes. He got ahead of batters and that was key.”
Biggersville pitcher Jordan Davis allowed five hits and struck out 10 batters, but a rough sixth inning blew the game open. Leading 2-0 on Russell’s fourth inning two-RBI single, Falkner batted around as Davis walked three and allowed RBI singles by Trevor Wilson and David Lindsey for a 8-0 lead.
“We didn’t hit the ball and we gave them too many bases,” said Biggersville coach Eric Lancaster. “It’s kind of been that way all year.”