In much the same way as high school basketball tournaments have become a staple of the state’s winter break, baseball tournaments are the norm when schools let out for spring break.
All Tri-Nine Conference teams participated or will participate in a tournament this week. In the past two seasons, the league has won an overwhelming majority of these games, flexing its collective muscle on the rest of the state. Fuquay, Athens in Bobby Murray:
Fuquay-Varina and Athens Drive are returning to a tournament that they each went unbeaten in last year. As is sometimes the case in the Bobby Murray Invitational, hosted by the USA Baseball Complex in Cary, two teams can go undefeated and not play one another.
After the first two days of games, sometimes tiebreakers are needed to group teams into a championship, third-place or other game. The invitational uses fewest runs allowed as its tiebreaker.
Fuquay-Varina will play 4 p.m. Thursday against Broughton on field 2 and at 7 p.m. Friday take on Heritage on Field 4.
Athens Drive is slated to open against Wake Forest-Rolesville on field 4 at 4 p.m. Thursday and then play at 4 p.m. Friday on Field 4 against Wakefield.
Much of the tournament is scheduled around trying to have Cap-8 Conference teams avoid one another. Half of the 10-team field (Broughton, Wake Forest-Rolesville, Heritage, Wakefield, Millbrook) is from the Cap-8. East Wake, Wake County Homeschool and Person round out the field.
The championship game will be played 6:30 p.m. Saturday on field 2, with the other final-day games taking place at 1 p.m. on fields 2 and 4 and at 4 p.m. on fields 3 and 4. Three in the Four Oaks:
Apex, Holly Springs and Panther Creek return to the Four Oaks Bank Tri-Nine Challenge, a popular destination among area teams in the past few years.
The tournament is a round-robin format, guaranteeing three games while also not putting pressure on pitching staffs to make up games in case of rainy weather.
Only Apex, Garner and Sanderson will host doubleheaders, but every team will have at least one home game and one game on a neutral field.
Panther Creek opens at home with Garner on Thursday at 4 p.m. before playing Sanderson (at Garner, 4 p.m.) on Friday and Western Harnett (at Apex, 1 p.m.) on Saturday.
Apex will play Western Harnett (at Sanderson) at 4 p.m. Thursday, at Garner at 7 p.m. Friday and will host Sanderson on Saturday at 4 p.m.
Holly Springs will be at Sanderson at 7 p.m. Thursday, at Western Harnett at 7 p.m. Friday and host Garner at 1 p.m. Saturday. Cary, Gibbons in Hilltop:
Cary, along with nearby Cardinal Gibbons of the Carolina 3A Conference, will play in the Triangle’s largest spring break baseball tournaments starting on Thursday.
The Hilltop Invitational uses the fields at East Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, Orange and Cedar Ridge high schools to host two eight-team tournaments.
The American Division is hosted by East Chapel Hill and Orange and features Cary, East Chapel Hill, East Forsyth, South Granville, Burlington Williams, Granville Central, Maury (Va.) and Orange.
The National Division is hosted by Chapel Hill and Cedar Ridge and features Gibbons, Durham Jordan, Surry Central, Cedar Ridge, Southern Alamance, Kernersville Glenn, Tallmadge (Ohio) and Chapel Hill.
Cary opens tournament play at 4 p.m. Thursday at East Chapel Hill against East Chapel Hill.
Gibbons will play Jordan at 4 p.m. Thursday at Cedar Ridge.
The American Division’s seventh-, fifth-, third- and first-place games will be held Saturday at Orange starting at 10 a.m., while the National Division’s games that day will be at Cedar Ridge. Best of the rest:
Green Hope wrapped up play in the Knights of the Round Table tournament in Knightdale on Monday, while Middle Creek did the same in the Johnston County Easter Invitational on Tuesday.
Lee County went 0-3 in the National High School Invitational in Cary.