CARY — A lesser team than Green Hope’s No. 1-ranked baseball club might have overlooked Wake County Home School as Hodge-podge group of home-schooled kids thrown together and presenting little challenge.
But Green Hope, led by teacher/coach/author Mike Miragliuolo, isn’t a lesser team in talent or maturity. The Falcons were aware the Warriors had proven over the last few seasons and again this year that they could compete with top programs.
Green Hope played with its usual edge as they Falcons took advantage of a two-out error in the first-inning to jump out to a 3-0 first-inning lead en route to a 7-3 victory Monday in a nonconference home game.
“Some of our guys knew some of their players from travel ball,” said senior catcher Thomas Yoder. “Their first four batters are good hitters.”
With the victory, Green Hope improved to 16-2 overall as the Southwest Wake Athletic Conference leaders opened another week atop the area baseball rankings. The Warriors dropped to 14-5.
“We’re taking things one game at a time,” Yoder said of the Falcons’ one-game lead in conference play and pressure as the No. 1 team. “We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves. We don’t want to take anyone lightly.”
Yoder knocked in the first of his two RBI-sacrifice fly balls with a one-out shot to right field that scored Eric Gilbert. A pair of two-out doubles sandwiched around a fielding error scored two more runs.
Shortstop Stephen Pittara doubled to right field, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a fielding error that allowed pitcher Matt Duckworth to reach first base. Duckworth then scored on center fielder Troy Maslowski’s double to right-center field.
Duckworth, who had allowed a leadoff double in the first inning, settled down to hold the Warriors hitless over the next three innings. He finished four shutout innings of work allowing only one hit with seven strikeouts.
The game was anything but routine for Duckworth, the Falcons’ closer who eager to make his second start of the year.
“I want to be a starter, but Coach says he trusts me as the closer,” said 6-foot-2, 175-pound junior right-hander. “I don’t mind as long as we’re winning.”
Green Hope opened a 7-0 lead before the Warriors scored three runs in the top of the seventh. By then Miragliuolo had emptied his bench, including sending eight of nine backup players to the plate in the sixth inning when Green Hope batted around to tally three runs.
Center fielder Matthew Smyth led Wake County Home School with two hits and two RBIs. First baseman Andrew Harvey, who lives in Apex, also had a hit.
“We like having a chance to play teams like Green Hope,” Harvey said. “We had to make some adjustments after that first inning.”