The Pinecrest Patriots baseball team is going to the state championship for the first time since 1979.
The Patriots defeated Fuquay-Varina at home in game three of the 4A East regionals Saturday night. Game three was forced when the Patriots lost Thursday night at Fuquay-Varina. The final score of game three was 7-0.
The best of three state championship series will be played next weekend. The series will be held at either Burlington Athletic Park or Doak Field at N.C. State. The decision has not yet been made about location or times.
The East regionals weren’t the only thing the Patriots had to celebrate. Pinecrest Coach Jeff Hewitt received his 400-career win Saturday night.
The Patriots came out swinging from the first inning to the last with scores in the first, third, fourth, and fifth innings.
“This is a family-oriented program, and some of the alumni are here tonight from the 1979 team,” Hewitt said to Sandhills Sentinel after the game. “I’ve worked hard to represent this program in the right way and do things for the guys [the 1979 team] that laid the foundation for us. They laid the foundation. That 2000 team when I started, I knew I had a good team, good program, and good community. We built off that year in and year out.”
When asked about this year’s team, he said “I couldn’t be any prouder. Tons of adversity when Coach Woolard passed right before the season started. He and I built this program to where we are now. One thing we’re trying to do is turn boys into men. Every day we pour into these guys and turn them into people that are going to be productive. When things get bad, they get tighter. That says a lot about who they are as kids and their parents. I’m really excited for our school.”
The Patriots will take on undefeated Providence in the state championship. Providence is ranked third in the nation.
When asked about preparing for Providence, Hewitt said, “Danny Hignight and I are good friends. The baseball community is tight. Danny and I coach USA Baseball together. He was my assistant in 2010. He runs a first-class program; Charlotte has great baseball. We do what we have been doing to prepare. We need to work on hitting velocity. They have two-plus arms. What we’re going to do first is we’re going to enjoy this.”
The Patriots won Saturday’s game in front of a packed house. The crowd was large and loud. One fan told Sandhills Sentinel; “I love this crowd. It’s huge and loud. I hope many will travel to wherever we will be playing.”
~Article, photos, and video by Sandhills Sentinel Reporter Curtis Self.