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Crusaders fall in extras at Charlotte Christian

Mar. 12—If not for a two-out passed ball in the first inning Friday night at Charlotte Christian, Camron Seagraves' debut on the mound for Grace Christian School would have been a victorious no-hitter.

However, that passed ball let in a run for the host Knights, who held the rope through seven innings and outlasted Seagraves, who reached his pitch limit on the final out of regulation. In the bottom of the eighth, the home team pushed across a run and handed the Crusaders their first loss of the season, 2-1.

Charlotte Christian (2-1), an NCISAA 4A school expected to contend for the title at that level this season, faced Grace (1-1) as part of a brutal early-season slate. The Knights beat 4A public school power Weddington 8-2 on Tuesday and then played both Grace and Wayne Country Day on Friday. After knocking off Grace, Charlotte Christian let an early lead slip away and lost 5-3 to the Chargers, a team Grace will face twice next month.

But the first game of the evening looked promising for the Crusaders. After Charlotte's Nic Harris struck out the first two Grace batters, Boaz Harper drove a 1-1 pitch over the center-field fence to give the Crusaders the lead.

In the bottom half of the inning, Seagraves missed the mark on eight of his first nine pitches and walked the first two batters. He got the next man on a grounder, but both runners advanced. After a strikeout for the second out, a 1-1 offering got away from Grace catcher Ethan Bunce and allowed the Knights' Drew Beard to score the tying run.

Seagraves blew away the Knights for the rest of the contest. He continued to fight his control in the second and third innings, walking one man in each, but struck out the side in the fourth and never allowed another baserunner. He ended the game with no hits allowed, no earned runs, and 11 strikeouts.

However, the Crusaders still needed to get him a run. Grace put runners on the corners with no one out in the second, but ran itself into a first out on a failed double steal, and then, after a walk, the next two batters made outs. They put the leadoff man on in the third and then had him picked off. They stranded runners in scoring position in the fourth and fifth, and a runner at first in the sixth.

In the top of the seventh, Bunce, Isaiah Arevalo, and Matt Murchison all got on and the bases were loaded with one out. Seagraves came up with a chance to help himself, but hit a grounder to third and Bunce was thrown out at home. The next man struck out and the inning was over.

In the Grace eighth, Alex Pena Jimenez, Bunce, and Connor Woods all walked after two were out. However, the next man struck out.

In the bottom half of the inning, Charlotte's Drew Darling led off with a hit against new Grace pitcher Riley Mullen. A sacrifice bunt moved him to second, and then Cohen Bettencourt singled to center. Arevalo fielded it and came home with the throw, but too late to get Darling at home.

The Crusaders will return home and host North Raleigh Christian tonight at 7.