Prep Baseball Report

New Hanover Wins Game 1 of 3A State Championship Series

Tim Hower
Coastal Preps, PBR Guest Writer

-- After spending 16 years working as a print journalist, Tim Hower decided to take his talents solely to the web by founding Coastal Preps. Coming in the summer of 2018, will be the premier source of high school sports news in Southeastern N.C. Search Coastal Preps on Facebook and Twitter to follow for updates and stories.  PBR is happy to have Tim helping cover the NCHSAA State Playoffs.


Senior Max Hildreth hit a 3-run home run in the top of the second inning and New Hanover pounded out 12 hits to earn an 8-4 victory over Crest on Friday the opening game of the 3A state championship series at Burlington Athletic Stadium.

The teams will square off again Saturday morning at 11 a.m. A win for the Wildcats would give them their first state title since 1994. If Crest is victorious, the teams will meet in a winner-take-all contest at 5 p.m.

“Game 1 is a big tone setter,” Hildreth said. “We are guaranteed at least three games now, but hopefully we can come out tomorrow morning and win Game 2 and get it over with.”

New Hanover (27-1) got solid contributions from its entire lineup, but the top four hitter were especially productive.

Jac Croom led off the game with a double to straightaway center and later scored on Kyle Smith’s double. Brett Kemp doubled home Smith to give the Wildcats an early cushion.

With two on and two outs in the second, Hildreth turned on a hanging breaking ball and deposited it over the fence in left field to increase the lead to 5-0.

“He started me off with a breaking ball that was up and then he threw me a fastball that I fouled back,” Hildreth said. “I knew breaking ball was coming again and he left it up and I just tried to put a good swing on it.”

Croom, Hildreth, Smith and Kemp went a combined 8-for-15 with seven RBI and five runs.

“Jac’s at-bat to lead off the game was big, because I thought their pitcher executed a couple fastballs in,” New Hanover coach Richard Foy said. “The two-strike pitch was a curveball for a strike.”

Crest (26-4) closed the gap to 5-4 with a single run in the second and third innings and a pair in the fourth, but they couldn't get over the hump. The Chargers finished the night with 11 runners left on base, including six in scoring position.

Senior Riley Cheek, who took the loss on the mound after allowing five earned runs in two innings, was 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run. Catcher John Kyle Mitchell reached base four times, including a pair of singles up the middle, and Luke Scism had two singles and a walk.

The Wildcats got two insurance runs in the sixth when Croom delivered a two-out to right to score Alex Sniffen and Jonathan Manis. Sniffen singled home Smith for the final run in the top of the seventh.

Sniffen and Manis both finished 2-for-4.

Junior southpaw Blake Walston improved to 13-1 by going 6 1/3 innings before lightning stopped play for more than an hour. He struck out five and walked five while allowing eight hits while throwing 110 pitches. After the delay, senior righty Mitch Baddour struck out the final two batters to earn his third save.

“He would have a sketchy inning and come in and get some water and calm down and game plan with (pitching) coach (Scott) Sandlin and go back out and battle again,” Foy said. “He did that all night and the next thing you know it’s the seventh inning. We are tickled to death with what we got out of him from a competitive standpoint.”