The Burlington School needed to win five games in two weeks, juggling pitching and facing stout competition.
By Saturday night, it pretty much turned out just like the Spartans mapped it.
TBS repeated as the Class 2-A state champion in the North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association, capturing the best-of-3 finals against Westchester Country Day School
“It all came together at the end, no doubt,” coach Chad Holland said.
In the winner-take-all Game 3, the Spartans broke a mid-game tie and went on to a 6-1 victory at Truist Point in High Point.
TBS won Friday’s Game 1 by 6-5 and then rallied before falling 11-9 in Saturday’s Game 2, creating the need for a final, third game to determine the champion.
But TBS (13-10) had ace pitcher Tucker Holland available for that matchup, and he delivered. Holland worked six innings with 11 strikeouts.
“It played out exactly how I wanted it to,” said Coach Holland, the pitcher’s father. “We were fortunate.”
Landon Parker roped a pair of doubles and drove in two runs. Julian Arreola helped pad the lead with a triple, and then he pitched the final inning for the Spartans.
A year ago, the Spartans swept Westchester Country Day School in the championship series, but it didn’t go so smoothly this time.
The Wildcats (16-8) had Wake Forest commit Josh Hammond available to pitch Saturday, so he was used in their must-win Game 2. That gave TBS some options.
“I was hesitant to use all our bullets in that game,” Coach Holland said.
Westchester Country Day School went up 9-0 before the Spartans posted seven runs in the fifth inning.
“We made it interesting,” Coach Holland said. “If we could just hang in there and make (Hammond) work, that’s what we needed to do.”
Despite Tucker Holland’s three runs batted in and Zachary Cimino’s three hits in Game 2, it wasn’t enough.
But the Spartans had Tucker Holland, an Arkansas signee, available for the decisive game. He didn’t pitch in the 2022 title series, but he made it count with his chance this time.
Playing without a conference affiliation and with unintended gaps in the schedule, it turned out to be a rather curious season of nearly three months for the Spartans. They had a 5-7 record heading into late April.
“You kind of lose some confidence,” Coach Holland said. “We got healthy and we got our confidence back.”
In Friday’s Game 1, Cooper Kelly pitched six innings as the Spartans won 6-5. CJ Powell scored two runs and Parker had two hits.