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"They set the bar to another level now, and that's a great thing for us down the road," says Auburn coach Skip Thompbson.
JOHN WIMMER | Special to The Roanoke Times
Auburn's Cody Akers raps a base hit in the second inning Saturday against William Campbell.
Sunday, June 9, 2013
William Campbell’s baseball coaching staff wore T-shirts Saturday that read “Last Day.”
It was for Auburn.
Campbell overcame an early two-run deficit with a four-run third inning as the Generals dashed Auburn’s hopes of a VHSL Group A Division 1 championship with an 8-2 semifinal victory at Kiwanis Field.
Both programs were playing in their first state semifinal, and Auburn jumped to a 2-0 lead in the second inning before Campbell ended the Eagles’ best season in school history at 17-7.
Auburn coach Skip Thompson had a long postgame talk with his team, which includes just three seniors.
“Way more pride than disappointment,” Thompson said. “Do you want to win state? Absolutely. But this is something that we’ve never done before. No team has ever done what this team did this year.
“They set the bar to another level now, and that’s a great thing for us down the road.”
William Campbell (18-6) will face either Riverheads or Clintwood for the championship at 10 a.m. today at Kiwanis.
The Generals can thank senior Brent Guthrie for the win. Guthrie inherited a 2-0 deficit and a bases-loaded situation from starter Colby Harrison in the second inning and shut Auburn down on five hits the rest of the way.
“He was fantastic,” Thompson said. “He came and threw his curveball for strikes. If you’ve got a pitcher that can throw two pitches for strikes and get your guys guessing, he’s got a huge advantage.”
Guthrie retired Auburn leadoff man Gabe Spencer on a popup and Erik Gaynor on a called third strike to escape the second-inning jam. He finished with seven strikeouts and no walks.
“I just trusted the fastball and tried to throw strikes,” Guthrie said. “I tried not to walk anybody.”
The Dogwood District co-champions wasted no time in taking the lead as two-out RBI-singles by Mitch Mason, Guthrie and Cody Lawhorn helped produce a 4-2 lead in the top of the third.
Campbell’s first run scored when Mason lofted a fly to right-center field. Right-fielder Jacob Walker got a late start on the ball, forcing center fielder Brian Underwood to make a long run.
The ball bounced off Underwood’s glove, opening the floodgates. While it was scored as a hit, Thompson knew the play was costly.
“It absolutely should have been made,” Thompson said. “But we have a right-fielder that’s a senior who’s playing his first full year of varsity. Our center fielder is a freshman. He ran a long way, but the great thing about that is he took it. He wanted to make that play.
“That fly ball really turned the game. Up to that point, Bower was fantastic. He was throwing first-pitch curveball and second-pitch changeup. You don’t see a lot of high school pitchers who are willing to do that.”
The Generals added two unearned runs in the fourth inning for a 6-2 lead after a throwing error by third baseman Gabrael Spencer.
Bower, who pitched four innings, put the blame on his own shoulders.
“It’s definitely my job to not let that get to me,” the sophomore said. “They’re always backing me up.”
Campbell took a 7-2 lead in the sixth on Harrison’s second RBI-double of the game, and the Generals added another run in the seventh.
The Region B champions had 11 hits with a lineup that featured six left-handed batters.
“That was a lot different,” Bower said. “For me, I had to adjust and start hitting the other side of the plate for an outside pitch.”
Auburn had seven hits, two apiece from Spencer and Cody Akers. The Eagles scored their runs on Allen Huff’s fielder’s choice and a bases-loaded walk to Walker. A large crowd of Auburn fans showed up in Salem.
“There’s always positives with everything,” Thompson said. “With all we accomplished this year, there’s a lot of positives.
Nevertheless, it will be Campbell playing for the state title.
“At the beginning of the season, we set a goal to be playing on the last day,” Guthrie said. “Tomorrow is the last day.”
William Campbell 004 201 1 -- 8 11 1
Auburn 020 000 0 -- 2 7 1
Harrison, Guthrie (2) and Mason; Bower, Gaynor (5) and Gresty. W -- Guthrie (7-2). L -- Bower.
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