GREENVILLE — The Riverheads baseball team added the Region 1B championship trophy to its collection Friday afternoon, but not before things got a little too close for comfort in the final inning.
The Gladiators took a 10-4 lead into the final inning, but had to turn back a furious rally to hold off William Campbell, 10-8 for the title.
"Give William Campbell credit. They made it pretty interesting in the seventh inning," said Riverheads head coach Rodney Painter.
Casey Butler entered the game on the mound for the Gladiators in the final inning with a 10-4 cushion to work with. The Generals quickly loaded the bases on singles by Josh Kerr and John Hicks and a walk to Bryce Mason. Still with no outs, Sloan Seals doubled to left, driving in two runs to cut the deficit to 10-6.
Randy Crabtree then hit a hard grounder to third and Riverheads third baseman Braeson Fulton made a diving stab to prevent extra bases. Fulton then threw home and the Gladiators retired Hicks after a rundown for the first out of the inning.
"That was the biggest play of the game. Braeson making that play was huge," said the Gladiators head coach. "That play got Casey a little fired up on the mound."
Butler struck out Chris Wilson for the second out of the inning, but Eric Hanson drove home a run with a single to make it 10-7. Crabtree scored on an infield error as the Generals closed to within 10-8. With the tying runs in scoring position, Butler retired Isaac Jennings on a fly ball to right to finish off the 10-8 Riverheads victory.
William Campbell jumped ahead in the top of the second on a two-run homer by Hanson, but Riverheads answered with three runs in the bottom of the inning to take its first lead.
Aidan Miller reached on an error to start the inning and took second on a sacrifice bunt by Ryan Farris. Adam Painter chased Miller home with a single to left, cutting the Generals' lead to 2-1. Grant Painter singled to put two runners on before Fulton and Elijah Dunlap produced back-to-back, run-scoring singles to push Riverheads into the lead 3-2.
William Campbell moved back into the lead, 4-3, when Brennan Stone doubled to the right-centerfield gap off Riverheads reliever Michael Robertson, but once again the Gladiators responded in the bottom half of the inning to regain the lead.
Riverheads took advantage of two errors by the visitors and scored four runs on just one base hit to move back out front, 7-4.
"I thought it was key that we were able to answer each time William Campbell scored early in the game. That kept us in the game," said Rodney Painter.
The Gladiators added what proved to crucial insurance runs with two in the fifth and one more run in the sixth inning to lead 10-4, setting the stage for the William Campbell rally that fell just short.
Robertson pitched four innings in relief to get the win. He allowed two runs on three hits. Adam Painter had three hits for the winners while Grant Painter, Fulton and Robertson added two hits each.
Riverheads will host a state quarterfinal game Tuesday against Lancaster. The game time is still to be determined.
WILLIAM CAMPBELL 022 000 4 - 8 9 6 RIVERHEADS 034 021 x - 10 11 1
Allen, Isaacs (5) and Wilson. King, Robertson (3), Butler (7) and Shuey.
WP - Robertson. LP - Allen. HR - Hanson (WC) 2nd, one on.