It was the kind of moment that Clay Matthews had played out in his head 100 times.
Bottom of the seventh, tied at three. The bases loaded, a 1-2 count.
In the backyard as a kid, he would have hit a towering home run to walk off with the win. In reality, hitting single to deep left field would have to do.
Matthews drove in the winning run on Tuesday night, capping off an exciting comeback as C.B. Aycock defeated Eastern Carolina Conference 3A/4A foe South Central, 4-3.
It was the Golden Falcons’ first baseball game in over 400 days, and C.B. Aycock head coach Allen Thomas said it means everything to get back on the field.
“We competed in every phase,” Thomas said. “I’m proud of the guys, and it’s been so long, so to see them have success out here after working hard makes me happy for them.”
On the mound, the Golden Falcons rode two pitchers to the win.
Carson Gipson got the start for C.B. Aycock and pitched 4 1/3 innings. He allowed six hits on the day while only walking two and striking out three.
“Carson gave us a great outing on the mound. We stayed in the game, and South Central is a good team, but Carson did his job on the mound,” Thomas said.
After Gipson, the Golden Falcons turned the ball over to Hunter Theriac. Theriac, who earned the win, pitched 2 2/3 innings without allowing a run on one hit.
He also gave up zero walks and struck out five.
“Hunter was sensational,” Thomas said. “I told him in the huddle ‘he was absolutely awesome and I’m proud of him,’ that kid has been through a lot, and I’m happy for his success.”
The game was scoreless through two innings, but in the top of the third inning, it looked like South Central took a 1-0 lead when Daniel Paciullo hit a home run, but Paciullo, while rounding the bases, failed to touch home plate.
So, Paciullo was tagged out, and the run did not count.
In the bottom of the third, Cameron Aycock hit an RBI double to give C.B. Aycock a 1-0 lead, while Matthews’ RBI ground out put the Golden Falcons up 2-0.
The Golden Falcons held off South Central in the fourth inning, but in the fifth inning, South Central battled back and took a 3-2 lead.
“We knew that if we kept it at 3-2 that we were going to be okay,” Thomas said. “With our speed in the lineup, we can do some good things.
“Our dugout was amazing, they were locked in, and it was fun to see.”
However, C.B. Aycock tied the game 3-3 in the bottom of the fifth when Gipson hit a sacrifice fly.
Theriac struck out two of the four batters he faced to keep South Central from scoring in the top of the seventh.
In the bottom of the seventh, Gipson was hit by a pitch to get on base. Brett Forbis hit a single, and Aycock was intentionally walked to load the bases.
That set the stage for Matthews’ game-winning single.
“If I have Five (Clay Matthews) in the box, then I’m feeling pretty good with a chance to win the ballgame. That kid has proven time and time again that he is a competitor,” Thomas said.
C.B. Aycock’s (1-0 overall) next game is on Thursday when they head to Winterville for a rematch with South Central (0-1).