ERWIN — In summer-league baseball, storms sometimes cancel games before they begin. But Apex had to deal with something more back-breaking as it completed its Central Carolina Scholastic Summer League season.
After defeating Harnett Central 4-3 in a CCSSL “opening round” game Monday, both teams learned that another team had pulled out of the playoffs – so the game they had just played was meaningless. Both moved into the round of 16 with a daunting task: taking the title meant winning five games in six days.
The Cougars almost did it. After winning at Triton 12-2 in five innings Wednesday, Apex then defeated Durham Riverside 11-6 to reach the semifinals. The year ended in a 5-4 loss to Heritage that saw the Cougars give up three runs in the bottom of the seventh Friday.
“I like the pieces we have as a group,” coach Mike Valder said. “Defensively we’ve been making good plays, and the pitching has been sustaining us.”
Over the past few years, there has been a strong correlation in CCSSL success and success in the state playoffs. Of last year’s final four teams in the CCSSL playoffs, two made the state semifinals and another advanced to the championship.
The final eight teams in last year’s CCSSL playoffs were all playoff teams in spring.
Apex finished second in its CCSSL Central division, behind Garner and tops among the division’s six Southwest Wake Athletic Conference teams. In previous years, several local teams made the playoffs because they were split into different divisions.
Blake: 919-460-2606; Twitter: @JMBpreps