Crusaders drop game at Cary Christian

May 4—Grace Christian baseball has been in a lot of close games this season, and Thursday night was not an exception, as the Crusaders faced a Cary Christian team that they may have to beat in the upcoming NCISAA 3A state playoffs.

The Knights, who entered the game with a 16-2 record but were only No. 8 in the MaxPreps 3A rankings due to a low strength of schedule, made a statement by holding off the Crusaders in the top of the seventh inning after breaking up a 2-2 tie in the bottom of the sixth with two runs. Grace (15-7) got a run across in the seventh and had the tying run on base with two out, but couldn't get him home in the 4-3 loss.

The Crusaders finished the regular season with a late Friday against Legion Collegiate Academy of South Carolina, and will be one of the top seeds in the upcoming NCISAA 3A tournament. The Crusaders will be one of the top four seeds in the tournament, but hope to hold on to the No. 1 overall ranking and be able to play every round of the postseason at Crusader Park.

Sophomore Landon McDonald pitched the first five innings of the game for Grace, allowing two runs in the fourth and two more in the sixth. The Crusaders scored one each in the third, fifth, and seventh innings. Grace outhit Cary Christian 7-4 and had seven walks to the Knights' three, but were unable to string together enough hits to make the baserunners pay off.

The visitors took a 1-0 lead in the third when Connor Woods led off with a walk, moved to third on two passed balls, and then scored on a Will Clewis groundout.

Grace trailed 2-1 in the fifth when it mounted a two-out rally, tying the game when Boaz Harper drew a two-out walk, advanced on a single by Camron Seagraves, and scored on a Caleb Ellis single. This left the Crusaders with two on, but they were unable to keep the inning going.

Harper also started the final Crusader run, leading off the seventh with a single. He moved to second on a throwing error by the Knights' third baseman and then got to third on a wild pitch. Seagraves drove him in with a groundout. Alex Pena Jimenez singled with two out to keep the game going, but the third out followed.

Grace's Connor Howard was 2-for-3 and the only player on either team with more than one hit.