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ROLESVILLE — It was a balk call that might forever be balked at.
Because the official’s decision in the bottom of the seventh inning ushered home Rolesville High baseball’s winning 3-2 run over East Wake at home March 11 in the latest — and maybe greatest — edition of the “Rolesville Road Rivalry.”
The field umpire declared that Warrior right-handed pitcher Anthony Brown lifted his left foot first during a pick-off move to second base with two outs and two on. However, subsequent film frames debate the claim.
“We were lucky in receiving that call,” triumphant Ram coach Jake Gross said afterward. “We had put ourselves in position to win, and it played out in our favor.”
The entire seventh inning was suspenseful from start to finish. East Wake (2-2) came to the plate in the top half down 2-1. Dylan Wells supplied a one-out single, followed by safe knocks from Landon Miller and Aiden Haugh to center. Haugh’s RBI tied it.
Facing two lead-taking runners in scoring position, Rolesville hurler Dylan Mason erased the new jam by coercing a fielder’s choice grounder to third baseman Jayden Bailey. Bailer elected to throw home to catcher Jordan Overton, who tagged Wells in front of the blocked plate.
Mason then issued his second strikeout to move onward altogether.
In the bottom of the frame, the hosts suffered two straight outs before Austin Buffaloe drew a walk. He rounded and reached third on a Tristan Purser single. That set up Isaac Elvira at the plate, but the expected individual duel was undone by the official interruption.
“I hate to be in a close game with those guys,” Gross said. “Because I know coach (Tony) Piercy always has something up his sleeve, and they are gonna grind. That is a good team over there.”
His own club improved to 3-1 thanks to Purser’s initial three-inning heroics. He fanned seven Warriors with rival runners in scoring position to keep the game deadlocked 0-0 into the fourth.
There, a Kevin Jones triple and a Gabe Jackson two-out single put the Rams ahead. East Wake countered in its sixth when Dawson Creech reached by error and Brown doubled deep to the right-center field gap.
Rolesville regained the upper-hand during its turn as Elvira accepted a base on balls with one gone. Brown was brought in to relieve Haugh, who had worked 5.1 innings with six hits, three strikeouts, one walk and one run allowed.
After a foul out to first base, Overton ripped a double down the unguarded third-base line to bring in Elvira for the 2-1 edge.
The seventh produced its own surprise to conclude a tight contest. It saw Overton throw out East Wake steal attempts at third and second during the fifth inning to stifle a two-on, one-out situation.
Likewise, Haugh stared down Ram threats in the first, second and fifth prior to exiting in favor of Brown, who took the controversial loss.