Salamanders ready for Petitt Cup playoffs, drum HiToms 6-1

Chris Baird, Triangle Sports Network

HOLLY SPRINGS, N.C. – The Holly Springs Salamanders ended their inaugural Coastal Plain League (CPL) regular season on a high note as they overpowered the High Point-Thomasville HiToms 6-1 in front of a sold out crowd of 1,802 at the North Main Athletic Complex on Monday.

Following two straight losses, the Salamanders (28-28) got their offense churning early and put up six runs during the first two innings of play, and that more or less decided the game.

Holly Springs outhit High Point-Thomasville (26-30) by a 14-3 margin, and coupled with effective pitching performances from starter Chris Cervantes (4 IP, 2 H, 2 SO) and bullpen contributors Brad Archer (2 IP), Chris Young (1 IP, 1 R, 1 H, 1 SO), Jonathan Piriz (1 IP), and Chris Williams (1 IP), the Salamanders conserved their energy in preparation for their first-ever Petitt Cup playoff appearance coming up on Wednesday.

“I told them tonight that it was all about havin’ fun and goin’ out and just playin’ the game,” Salamanders coach Andrew Ciencin said.

“Puttin’ up those six runs in the first – that was good right there – then it was just a matter of them just playin’ the game as it was.”

Collin Woody (1-4, 1 R, 2 RBI) fueled the offense by hitting his 11th homer of the season, and put Holly Springs ahead 4-0 after the first inning.

Singles from Drew Butler (2-4, 1 R, 1 RBI) and Will Nance (2-5, 1 RBI) pushed the lead to six runs through two.

“It definitely takes the pressure off us, both offensively and defensively,” Woody said.

“We’re not pressin’ to score runs, and from a defensive standpoint, we don’t have to press on every single pitch that could make or break the game.”

The HiToms posted their lone run of the game in their half of the seventh inning, but couldn’t generate anything more to challenge the Salamanders further.

Having earned its spot in the playoffs a day earlier, sitting with the fourth-best overall winning percentage in the East Division, Holly Springs will now host the league-leading Edenton Steamers in a best-of-three series.

“I think we’ll stay with the same mentality,” Ciencin of what to expect of the Salamanders’ play in the postseason.

“Obviously, you’re in a tighter zone that you need to win in. I think the first game in a three-game set is the biggest game. I’m really happy that we’re here. I’m feelin’ good of where we’re at right now. It’s just a matter of capitalizing on opportunities. You’ve just gotta’ play good baseball in the playoffs. That’s what it comes down to.”

Notes: Playoff game tickets will become available at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, following the season-ticket holder priority purchasing period that ends at Noon.

Boxscore – CPL