Mustangs advance to regional finals for first time since 1990

The North Moore Mustangs’ baseball team advanced to the regional finals Saturday for the first time since 1990. 

Coach Kennedy said his Mustangs were thought to make a deep run last year after going undefeated at the beginning of conference play and winning the conference tournament. Last year, the Mustangs were upset in the first round. They went into the conference tournament in fourth this year but came out as conference champions.

The last time the Mustangs played in the final four of the NCHSAA 1A baseball playoffs was a 32-team format, meaning the tournament was four rounds plus the championship. This is the first time since the 64-team format that the Mustangs have made it this far. 

After being on the road for rounds two and three, the No. 9 Mustangs got a home game against No. 12 Rosewood Friday afternoon. The game was rescheduled until Saturday due to rain.

Despite it being rescheduled, parents, students, faculty, and fans filled the ballpark. Bleachers were full, and fans lined down both fences. A trip to the regional finals was at stake, and both teams were ready to compete. 

Ethan Dunlap was the starting pitcher. Striking out the first batter landed him strikeout number 100 on the season.

“I was feeling good up there,” said Dunlap.

He struck out the second batter, and with the help of his fielders, Rosewood went three up and three down in the first. The Mustangs took advantage of the good defensive start and swung the bats, going up 2-0 before the completion of the first inning.

Dunlap continued to be hot, only walking two Rosewood batters and collected eight more strikeouts to make it 10 on the game.

“He is used to it. He has been there. That’s what we get from him every night,” said coach Kennedy. 

The Mustangs’ defense continued to work throughout the game, only giving up one run. The Mustangs continued swinging the bats in the second and third, hitting six runs in the afternoon. 

Rosewood loaded the bases a few times late in the game, but with great pitching from Gabe Purvis and Bradley Mauldin, the Mustangs were too much for Rosewood. 

“We’re wanting to play another day. No one here wants to stand out. Everyone is wanting to play with their teammates one more time, and that’s hard to compete with,” said Kennedy 

On Wednesday, the Mustangs will travel to Durham to take on the No. 3 Voyager Academy in a best-of-three series. The Mustangs will host game two on Friday, but the time has not been set. The Mustangs will head back to Durham on Saturday if game three is needed.

Sandhills_Sentinel~Article and photo by Sandhills Sentinel Reporter Curtis Self.

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