Finding the Way: Randleman takes normal path to another rout

Trey Way and his teammates react to his game-sealing home run Friday night against East Surry. (PJ Ward-Brown / Randolph Record)

Tigers ruin showdown, head to regional final

RANDLEMAN – The fourth round of the Class 2-A state playoffs shaped up as an epic showdown between two one-loss baseball teams.

As the national anthem played, the line at the entrance gate had dozens of fans waiting to get in – and stayed that way for quite a while.

The scene at Joe Brookshire Field had all the makings of a classic.

Then Randleman did its thing – again.

The Tigers took down another opponent with authority, its fourth consecutive run-rule victory in the state playoffs. This time, it was a 10-0 decision against fourth-seeded East Surry.

“We’re not surprised,” sophomore left fielder Seth Way said. “We’re just having fun for now.”

Older brother Trey Way, a senior shortstop, hammered two home runs, including the game-clinching blast to the opposite field over the right-field fence on the second pitch of the bottom of the fifth.

“They’re a great team,” Trey Way said. “We just came out and we just swung it. We threw it. We threw strikes. And we took care of business.”

As usual, because it all seemed familiar.

“A great atmosphere,” Randleman coach Jake Smith said. “Our guys just love coming out here and playing when it’s like this. We just go into games trying to compete the best we can.”

Top-seeded Randleman (29-1) takes on No. 15 seed Community School of Davidson (17-6), which rallied to top visiting Trinity 6-5 on Friday night, in a best-of-3 regional final. Game 1 is set for Tuesday night at Randleman, while the Tigers go on the road for Thursday’s Game 2. If a third game is needed, it will be Friday or Saturday at Randleman.

The Tigers didn’t score in the first inning of the East Surry game, then went to work with Seth Way’s solo homer – his fourth long ball of the season – and Trey Way’s three-run shot in the second.

“Keep the gas pedal down,” right fielder Bryson Sweatt said. “That’s the difference between the good teams and the great teams. I don’t see anybody coming close to us if we play our baseball.”

Randleman knows the deal on ending games early.

A two-out throwing error provided two more runs in the third. Gus Shelton’s fly into shallow right field with two outs in the fourth plated two more when miscommunication from the Cardinals (24-2) resulted in a double, followed by Ryan White’s RBI single. Sweatt’s double was another key hit earlier in the inning.

Trey Way capped it in the next inning, marking his second two-homer, four-RBI outing of the week. That was the Tigers’ single-season state record 56th home run.

“When we stick to our approach and our pitchers get out there and throw strikes and do what they do, it’s never out of the possibility of run-ruling any team we play,” Trey Way said. “If we just do what we do and play how we play, we can get it done.”

Drake Purvis notched a five-inning shutout for the third week in a row despite giving up a game-opening single to Luke Bowman. In the fourth, a hit batter and double allowed East Surry to threaten, but Purvis struck out the next three batters.

Randleman is unscored upon in the state playoffs and for the last five games overall.

The Tigers began the week with a 17-0 trouncing of No. 25 seed Mount Pleasant in the third round with Seth Way providing four of the team’s 16 hits. Hunter Atkins, who knocked in four runs, Brooks Brannon, who drove in three, and Braylen Hayes all homered. Trey Way scored four times, while Atkins and Shelton both scored three runs. White pitched the first four innings without allowing a hit and striking out eight before Seth Way worked the last inning.

By Bob Sutton