WEAVERVILLE – Crouched behind the plate, Asheville High senior Jared Patterson couldn’t believe what he was seeing Tuesday afternoon.
The Cougars let one get away before their catcher reeled it back in with one swing.
Patterson’s eighth-inning home run — his second of the game — put Asheville over the top in an 11-10 win over Mountain Athletic Conference 3-A baseball tournament host North Buncombe.
The third-seeded Cougars (10-12) had taken a 10-2 lead into the seventh inning of the semifinal matchup. But their bullpen couldn’t finish off a game pitched up to that point by Millsaps (Miss.) recruit Langston Haden (6-1). The eight tying runs from No. 2 North Buncombe (11-11) forced extra innings.
Patterson’s homer came with two outs and kept Asheville’s season alive.
The Cougars and top-seeded Reynolds (15-7) will play in Thursday night’s MAC 3-A championship game, also at North Buncombe, at 7 p.m.
Asheville needs to win the tournament to be guaranteed a spot in next week’s NCHSAA 3-A playoffs.
“The playoffs have already begun for us, every game is a must-win,” said Haden, a left-hander who mixed his fastball, changeup and slider for six innings.
“Today was a real roller-coaster for everybody.”
Haden struck out eight Black Hawks and walked three. Both of the runs that he allowed were earned. Noah Cook got the win with two innings of relief.
Patterson was 4-for-5 with the two homers, a pair of doubles and five RBIs. He now has three home runs for the season. Cook and Jesse Rackley added two hits apiece on Tuesday. Both of Rackley’s base knocks were doubles. Cook had two RBIs.
Haden’s solo homer in the second inning represented the game’s first run. He later doubled.
Collin Wheeler led North Buncombe by going 4-5. Michael Ponder, Austin Reeves and Heath Fox added two hits apiece. Ponder smacked a double and Fox drove in a team-high two RBIs. Jeremiah Robinson and Chase Parker were both 1-2 with a pair of walks. Robinson also had a double.
“This is the first time that any of us seniors have been in (the MAC 3-A tournament championship game),” Patterson said.
“We’re looking forward to it.”
No. 1 Reynolds 8, No. 4 Erwin 1: Sophomore Josh Dotson pitched six shutout innings, allowing plenty of time for the top-seeded Rockets to give him the necessary run support.
Dotson struck out 11 Warriors (7-16) and scattered five hits with two walks in a complete-game outing.
Dotson helped himself by reaching base four times via a single, two walks and a hit-by-pitch. Griffin Mease was 2-4 with a pair of RBIs. His two-run single was the biggest blow in a four-run third inning. Reynolds tacked on a couple more runs in the fifth and then again in the sixth.
Erwin (7-16) got a leadoff double from shortstop Damien Ferguson in the top of the seventh inning, and he later came around to score on a wild pitch.
Looking ahead to Thursday, the Rockets won both regular-season meetings with Asheville this spring (9-0 on March 18 and 5-3 on April 12).