Ashley advances on fourth walk-off of the postseason, defeats Cardinal Gibbons for 4A East series

Ashley advances on fourth walk-off of the postseason, defeats Cardinal Gibbons for 4A East series

MONKEY JUNCTION, N.C. — Either way you sliced it, a “team of destiny” was going to emerge from Game 3 in the 4A East baseball regional final series.

Ashley just might be that.

For the fourth time this postseason, the Screaming Eagles won in walk-off fashion, this time 1-0 over Cardinal Gibbons on Saturday night.

Tanner Berry scored from second on a one-out line drive into the gap by Drew Potter for the game’s only run as Ashley once again did its “survive and advance” routine.

Ashley (26-4), the top-seeded team in the East, will meet defending state champion T.C. Roberson in next week’s championship series, at either Burlington Athletic Park or Ting Park in Holly Springs.

Ashley had already won on walk-offs this postseason — the first three all came in extra innings, while Saturday’s addition was in the bottom of the seventh. The first instance came by a 4-3 score in the third round against Holly Springs in 11 innings and then 3-2 in nine innings against Pinecrest in the fourth round. Game 1 of the East regional final was a 3-2 win by Ashley in nine innings, but Cardinal Gibbons (16-15), seeded 22nd, hosted Game 2 and won it 3-1.

Gibbons had won four straight road games against higher seeds, including the Nos. 2, 3, and 6 seeds, entering Game 1. The Crusaders were hoping to be the second-lowest baseball seed (since the NCHSAA went to 1-32 seeding) to reach the state title series since 2016 East Rutherford, a 23rd seed, did.

It was in position to take down No. 1 thanks to strong starting pitching from Owen Hines, who went the full game on the mound. Ashley’s Cane Mehling went the full game for the Screaming Eagles.

Ashley has one state championship appearance in its history, a 2007 series sweep loss at the hands of South Caldwell.

Gibbons’ last appearance was 1982, a gap partially explained by Gibbons playing in the NCISAA from 1983-2005, in a loss to Edneyville (which was later consolidated into what is now North Henderson).