NCHSAA 3A Baseball East Regional Series Preview: South Brunswick vs. South Central
No. 2 South Brunswick (22-3) vs. No. 13 South Central (20-5)
NCHSAA 3A East Regional Series
Game 1: 6 p.m. Tuesday at South Brunswick
Game 2: 6 p.m. Thursday at South Central
Game 3 (if necessary): 2 p.m. at South Brunswick
How they got here
No. 2 South Brunswick 11, No. 31 Durham School of the Arts 0 (5 innings)
No. 13 South Central 2, No. 13 Southern Wayne 0
No. 2 South Brunswick 4, No. 18 Fike 0 (4 innings) ***Game was called to due inclement weather***
No. 13 South Central 5, No. 29 East Wake 4
No. 2 South Brunswick 4, No. 26 Croatan 1
No. 13 South Central 11, No. 21 North Brunswick 1 (6 innings)
No. 2 South Brunswick 13, No. 6 West Carteret 1 (5 innings)
No. 13 South Central 5, No. 1 Greenville Rose 3 (11 innings)
A look at the series
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This is an interesting matchup between two teams that have advanced deep in the playoffs for the first time in more than a decade.
Dating back to 2010, South Central had only reached the third round once prior to this season, and that came in 2014. South Brunswick made it to the second round in 2010 and 2013.
South Central has never played for a state title, while South Brunswick won the 2A championship in 1988 by sweeping Charlotte Catholic (10-4 and 8-6).Past results haven’t matter to either team this season, as both have reached the 20-win mark and shared their regular season conference title.
The Falcons finished 10-2 in the Big East 3A/4A Conference. They swept D.H. Conley (2-1 in both games), but suffered a pair of losses to Greenville Rose (2-0 and 12-2).
South Central got revenge on its county rival in the third round of the playoffs with a dramatic 5-3, 11-inning victory. Seniors Trace Baker and Daylinh Nguyen-Brown combined for 12 strikeouts on the mound. Baker also had three hits, including a home run, and three RBIs.
South Brunswick went 11-3 in the mighty Mideastern 3A/4A Conference, which saw seven of its eight teams qualify for the playoffs. The Cougars shared the title with New Hanover even though they swept the season series.
It’s been a pretty comfortable road through the playoffs. South Brunswick has played 10 less innings than South Central thanks to a pair of five-inning mercy-rule wins and a four-inning weather impeded win against Fike in the second round.
Based on the season stats, this series looks to be extremely even.
South Central enters Tuesday’s Game 1 with a team batting average of .312 (207-for-663), 23 doubles, seven triples and seven home runs. They have walked 125 times and struck out 122. The Falcons have also stolen 38 bases.
Senior shortstop/pitcher and Old Dominion signee Alex Bouche leads the team in batting average (.514), doubles (2), triples (2) and RBIs (24).
Baker, who will attend Catawba Valley Community College next year, is hitting .375 with five doubles, three home runs, 23 RBIs and 27 runs scored.
Bouche and Baker are also the anchors of a talented pitching staff that has a 2.02 ERA and 219 strikeouts in 162 2/3 innings.
Bouche will likely get the start in Game 1. He is 10-1 with a 0.80 ERA and 84 strikeouts in 61 1/3 innings. He has a mid-80s fastball as well as a breaking ball that sits in the mid-70s.
Baker threw 109 pitches against Greenville Rose on Friday, so he won’t be available until Game 2 of the series. He is 4-3 with a 1.90 ERA and 83 strikeouts in 55 1/3 innings. Baker also throws a mid-to-upper 80s fastball and a low-to-mid-70s curveball.
Junior Nick Mayo (4-0 with a 3.59 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 27 1/3 innings) and Nguyen-Brown (2-0 with a 1.40 ERA and seven strikeouts in 10 innings) could also see time on the mound in the series.
Through 25 games, South Brunswick is hitting .330 (214-for-648) with 43 doubles, four triples and 23 home runs. They have walked 111 times to go along with 165 strikeouts. The Cougars have stolen 71 bases.
Walker Jenkins is arguable the top junior in the country. The UNC commit has a .521 batting average to go along with nine doubles, two triples, 10 home runs, 16 stolen bases, 37 RBIs and 41 runs scored.If the Falcons decide to pitch around Jenkins, they will be forced to face ECU signee Cameron Burgess and hit .429 average. Burgess has eight doubles, four home runs and 33 RBIs.
Banks Hartman (.361), Aubrey Smith (.360) and Luke Dilgard (.349) are also dangerous hitters.
Burgess and UNCW commit Aubrey Smith make up one of the best 1-2 pitching combos in the state.The mercy-rule victory over West Carteret in the third round means coach Mike Anderson has both pitchers available for Game 1.
Smith is 10-1 with a 1.86 ERA and 87 strikeouts in 60 1/3 innings. Burgess is 6-0 with a 1.09 ERA and 72 strikeouts in 45 innings.
Hartman, Alex Sanchez and Jordan Daniels are options out of the bullpen.