Before this spring, McDowell’s baseball team had not won a playoff game since 2002.
The Titans sure have a taste for the postseason now with their deepest run in school history.
Ace Coleman Arrowood gave them seven workmanlike innings Friday night and had more than enough run support in a 7-4 victory over Reynolds at Davis Field.
Arrowood struck out eight Rockets (16-8) while scattering 10 hits and three walks.
With a huge crowd looking on, McDowell broke open the third-round NCHSAA 4-A playoff game between Mountain Athletic Conference teams with a four-run third inning. The wildcard Titans (18-7) got two hits apiece from Johnny Cooper, Dylan Ricketts and Landon Whitson and took advantage of four Reynolds errors.
McDowell advances to play MAC 4-A regular-season champion Roberson (19-8) in Tuesday’s 4-A Western Regional semifinals. The Rams beat Charlotte Olympic, 10-2, Friday in Skyland.
Tuesday is the final stage of single-elimination before the NCHSAA baseball playoffs go to best-of-three series.
“Everyone of our kids competed tonight,” Titans coach Alex Smith said.
“Night like this in this kind of environment is why you work so hard to prepare. Our guys made plays behind Coleman all night, and we hit it when we needed to. It’s a great win for our program. Roberson is really stroking it right now. They are really playing well. We’re going to show up Tuesday and try and do our best.”
McDowell and Reynolds split their regular-season series. The Rockets knocked around Arrowood on April 5 in an 11-1 rout — the junior gave up seven earned runs in 4 2-3 innings that night.
The Titans took an early 1-0 lead Friday.
Alex Lawing’s sacrifice fly to center field in the second inning was plenty deep enough for Trevor Loudermilk to tag up at third base. Loudermilk off the inning with a walk and advanced to third on Landon Whitson’s double.
Reynolds had a swift response.
With the bases loaded in the bottom of the second, Cody Cauble’s two-out single brought in John Nick Setterlind and Trevor Stockhausen. But the 2-1 lead was short-lived.
Loudermilk’s two-run double was the biggest blow in a four-run third inning for McDowell. Dylan Rickets also had an RBI single.
The Titans forced the Rockets to use four pitchers — Parker Utter, Shawn Clemmer, Derek Williams and Bryce Hensley. Williams recently signed with Montreat.
Reynolds, which represented the No. 2 seed out of the MAC 4-A division, was led at the plate by Dylan Williams, who went 3-for-4 a double and two RBIs. Setterlind went 2-4 and Hensley was 1-2 with a walk. Arrowood was 1-1 at the plate with three walks.