A combination of injuries and close losses plagued the Havelock baseball team during the 2015 season.

For more pictures from the game and Senior Night ceremony, click here: http://havenews.mycapture.com/mycapture/folder.asp?event=1933399&CategoryID=81202&ListSubAlbums=0

A combination of injuries and close losses plagued the Havelock baseball team during the 2015 season.

No surprise those same problems came up in a 3-0 Coastal 3A Conference loss to West Craven Wednesday at Havelock High.

The Rams (9-14, 4-8) played the undefeated league champions close. The Eagles (19-3, 12-0) finally put the game away with a two-run seventh inning.

“I’m just proud of my guys,” Havelock coach Matt James said. “They played with a lot of heart and a lot of guts this year. These guys played hard for me, and that’s all I can ask for.”

As was the case Wednesday against West Craven. The game was tight throughout, with Havelock’s Ryan Lewis throwing a complete-game five-hitter. Three of those hits came in the top of the seventh inning with Jason Parker and Kenny McDaniel each contributing RBI singles, boosting West Craven to a 3-0 lead.

“We were able to stay in the game because Ryan Lewis pitched his butt off,” James said. “He got in some real trouble in the second inning when he put all three of those guys on for free and somehow got out of that inning, and then he started collecting outs. He kept us in the game.”

West Craven scored in the first inning when McDaniel singled and eventually crossed the plate on a wild pitch. The Eagles had three walks to start the second, but Lewis struck out one and got the next two batters on pop-outs, ending the inning.

Havelock’s best chance to score also came in the second. Travis Sabdo, Junior Renwick and Christian Crowe all singled in the frame, but West Craven starter Noah Lewis also struck out three batters in the inning. He didn’t give up a hit the rest of the way and ended the night allowing just four hits with seven strikeouts.

“I think both pitchers did an outstanding job,” West Craven coach Michael McKeel said. “Ryan threw well, and their defense made some plays, but we’ve got a pretty good Lewis on the mound too, and he kept us in it and kept battling.”

Havelock lost a 6-5, eight-inning contest earlier this year to the Eagles.

“My hat’s off to coach James,” McKeel said. “They always play us tough no matter what the situation is. I knew coming in here it was going to be a dogfight, and it was.”

For seniors Ross Kinder, Sabdo, Lewis, Jesse Campbell, Christian Crowe, Jordan Begley and Billy Watkins, the game marked their last in a Havelock uniform. James thanked his seniors and hoped his 10 juniors would continue working during the summer and fall to get ready for the 2016 season.

“We should be very experienced next year,” James said. “We’ve got a pretty heavy junior class. We’ll be very experienced next year, and I look forward to that, work in the summer, carry it over to the fall and come out in the spring.”

McKeel said the Eagles entered the season with a goal of winning a conference championship. They did that by going undefeated in league play and matching the school record for victories in a season with 19 set in 2002. Now, McKeel said, they have new goals.

“This was a goal to be conference champions and they reached it,” McKeel said. “But they want to be more than just conference champions, and that’s what we’re going to work for and that’s going to be our goal, to try to keep moving on.”

The playoffs start next week for the Eagles, with brackets to be announced on Saturday, but McKeel couldn’t help but try to reflect on his team’s regular-season accomplishments.

“It means these guys have worked hard and they have done everything that they wanted to do and everything that they needed to do,” he said. “I can’t put it into words. It’s pretty sweet I know that. I’m happy for my six seniors and the rest of them that put on that jersey.”