Garner scores on wild pitch in 10th inning to advance past Wake Forest, to 4A state championship

Garner scores on wild pitch in 10th inning to advance past Wake Forest, to 4A state championship

Claire Herman scored the game-winning run in the bottom of the 10th inning as Garner advanced to the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A state championship series on Friday night.

After a 45-minute lightning delay before the first pitch, Garner and Wake Forest battled through 10 innings to determine the eastern regional champion. Herman scored the final run of the night on a Wake Forest wild pitch, giving the Trojans a 3-2 win.

Wake Forest wasted little time scoring. In the first inning, Taylor Jones hit a double on a line drive to right field, which allowed Kaylee Bowers to score, thanks in part to a Garner error. The Cougars led 1-0 after one inning.

No one scored again until the bottom of the third inning. With two outs and with two runners on base, Lily Keefer hit a two-RBI tripe to right field, scoring Gabriela Mizelle and Dakota Putman. Garner led Wake Forest 2-1 after three innings.

In the top of the sixth inning, Jones hit a lead-off home run to tie the game at 2-2, and that tie stuck until Herman’s run in the 10th inning.

Herman led off the 10th inning with a single, then reached first base on an error by Wake Forest. Gabriella Czuczuk’s ground out followed, but it allowed Herman to advance to third base with just one out.

Bailey Radford bunted into a fielder’s choice, which allowed Wake Forest to prevent Herman from scoring, but Radford reached first base. Next, Cloe Ragano was hit by a pitch, which loaded the bases.

Mizelle was due up next at bat, and on the second pitch, a wild pitch allowed Herman to score the game-winning run from third base.

Raleigh Stewart was credited with the win after pitching 5.2 innings, allowing just one hit while striking out 13 batters. Czuczuk pitched 4.1 innings, allowing three hits and recorded two strikeouts.

For Wake Forest, Jilian Livengood pitched 6.2 innings, allowed four hits and struck out nine batters. Jones pitched 2.2 innings with four hits and two strikeouts.

Garner will face Weddington in the 4A state championship series next weekend. Game 1 will be played on Friday, with Games 2 and 3 scheduled for Saturday. The games will be played at either Duke University or UNC-Greensboro.

This marks the first time in school history Garner has played for a softball state championship.

However, the Trojans appeared in the state semifinals in 2004 when the championships were a double-elimination format instead of a best-of-three series. Garner lost Cape Fear in the semi-finals, then dropped a game to West Forsyth in the elimination round.