End of a Run
Albemarle School falls to Kerr-Vance in NCISAA 1A baseball championship series
Kerr-Vance Academy 15 Albemarle School 2
By Malcolm Shields
Sunday, May 19, 2019
HENDERSON — As Kerr-Vance Academy relief pitcher Matt Overton recorded the final out of the game on a strikeout, the celebration was on.
The Spartans secured their third consecutive North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association Class 1A state championship with a 15-2 win in five innings over Albemarle School in Game 2 of the best-of-three series to sweep the Colts two games to zero Saturday afternoon at Kerr-Vance Academy.
Kerr-Vance Academy (15-5) won Game 1 of the series 8-0 Friday night.
As the Spartans celebrated with a dogpile near the mound, Albemarle School players watched the Kerr-Vance celebration.
Saturday was an end of a run to a state championship for the Colts (8-10).
Albemarle School made history during the 2019 season as it became the first Albemarle School baseball team since 1991 to play in the NCISAA state championship final.
“I want our team to soak up the experience and learn what it’s about, because you’re never guaranteed to get back,” Albemarle School head coach Jeff Simpson said. “In the same instance, I told them I want this one to stick in their craw because they had a chance to win this game [Saturday].”
The coach added that the Colts had one of their worse games of the season defensively against Kerr-Vance in Game 2.
Without the errors, Simpson believes Game 2 would have been closer than the final margin.
The game got off to a rough start in the top of the first inning.
Albemarle School was the designated home team in Game 2.
Kerr-Vance took a 1-0 lead on a RBI double by Colby Wilkerson.
The Spartans scored back-to-back runs on consecutive Albemarle School errors, one on a dropped fly ball in the outfield and another on a fielding error in the infield, to take a 3-0 lead.
Kerr-Vance starting pitcher Michael Holtzman helped his cause with a RBI double to up the Spartans lead to 4-0.
Kerr-Vance ended the scoring in the frame on a RBI groundout by Tom Echols to take a 5-0 advantage.
The Colts began the bottom of the first with a leadoff single by Logan Dunn, a walk to senior Keith Lane and a single by Tanner Simpson.
Albemarle School scored on a two-out bases loaded walk to Luke Gray to trim the deficit to 5-1.
The Colts seemed to settle down defensively in the top of the second as the Spartans were retired in order.
The Spartans scored two runs in the third, three in the fourth and five in the fifth inning.
Albemarle School scored in the bottom of the third on a Gray RBI single to cut the deficit to 7-2.
Holtzman pitched 4 1/3 innings and registered eight strikeouts for the win.
Albemarle School’s Tanner Simpson got the start on the mound and went four innings and faced three batters in the fifth.
Coach Simpson acknowledged that it was great for his team to face an established program like Kerr-Vance Academy in the championship series.
The coach noted that Kerr-Vance is better than most teams the Colts face in the Tarheel Independent Conference during the regular season.
“To get better, you need to play better competition,” coach Simpson said.
Although the coach was disappointed that the series was not held at a neutral site, he was appreciative of the hospitality the team received from Kerr-Vance Academy.
That was apparent after the awards ceremony when both teams lined up at home plate to take a group photo with players and coaches wearing medals and holding their respective trophies.
Albemarle School also sent a good contingent to Henderson for the series.
Despite the under .500 record, coach Simpson noted that the team played when they needed to play.
“It was the highest peaks and the lowest-lows,” he said. “The figured it out at the right time.”