Ellis, South Split In Baseball
By Brian Pitts
Davie Enterprise Record
The South Davie baseball team caught lightning in a bottle and knocked off unbeaten Ellis last week in the first game of a doubleheader.
Smarting from its first loss, Ellis routed South in the second game. Both games were scheduled for five innings.
Going into game one at South, the Tigers were 4-5 and Ellis was 6-0, having outscored opponents 77-6. The Jaguars had whipped South 12-1 in the first meeting as they were averaging 12.8 runs per game.
Even though Ellis was the overwhelming favorite on paper, the Tigers slayed the dragon 3-2. It was a huge upset for other reasons – Ellis had won 12 of 16 and three straight in the series.
“It was an excellent middle-school game,” Ellis coach Mike Dinkins graciously offered. “Both pitchers pitched well. It was two good middle-school teams playing.”
Matthew Glass starred for the Tigers. He pitched a complete game as well as providing a run-scoring hit. Nate Essick pitched all four innings for Ellis.
“(Glass) pitched a great game,” Dinkins said. “He got seven infield popups. He did an excellent job.”
But Glass didn’t do it alone. The biggest hit came from Devin Martin, who staked South to a 2-0, first-inning lead with a two-out, two-strike, two-run double that short-hopped the fence in left.
“He had never played baseball before this year,” South coach Rob Orrill said.
“We had him in an 0-2 count and threw it up in his eyes,” Dinkins said. “We tried to waste one and he belted it.”
South tacked on a run in the third to push its lead to 3-1. With Chase Johnson taking off from first, Glass executed a hit-and-run with perfection, lacing one in the hole that was created by the second baseman covering the bag.
Ellis pulled within 3-2 in the fourth, but South held the Jags off in the fifth.
The Tigers came up with two dazzling defensive plays to thwart Ellis rallies. The first one was delivered by shortstop Austin Brister.
“They had two excellent defensive plays,” Dinkins said. “The shortstop made one up the middle with two outs and runners on second and third. We would have scored two runs. He made a great play and nipped our runner at first.”
In the Ellis second, the Jaguars had pushed one run across to cut South’s lead to 2-1. With a runner at second and two outs, Jesse Draughn singled to center. Dinkins waved the runner home, but an 8-3-2 relay preserved the 2-1 lead. Johnson threw to first baseman Will Southern, who tossed a strike to catcher Lane Bolmer, who applied the tag.
“Their catcher made a great block at the plate and stopped my guy from reaching the plate,” Dinkins said. “They just made a super play.”
In the Jaguars’ minds, the second game probably went the way it was supposed to. Ellis rolled by South 12-2 in three innings.
Dinkins was able to breathe easy and relax as the Jags scored four runs in the first, five in the second and three in the third.
“The bats woke up,” Dinkins said. “We just hit it like we normally hit it. We just didn’t hit it in the first game.”
Guy Brunelli (3-for-3, four RBIs), Cody Hendrix (3-3, four RBIs), Draughn (2-3), Jacob Byrd (2-3) and Hite Merrifield (2-3) paced the attack. Brunelli had a two-run double in the first and a two-run single in the second.
Ellis got one hit from Josh Tibbs, Essick and Landon Bandy.
Tibbs did the pitching, giving up two hits and working around four walks.
Ellis closed the game with a 1-3-6 double play. Tibbs threw to Brunelli for an out, and Brunelli threw to shortstop Byrd for the final out.
Ellis kept its foot on the gas pedal at North Davie, winning 18-5.
The Jaguars swept three from North this season, winning the earlier meetings by seven and 10 runs. While Ellis, which played its final game May 6, improved to 8-1, the Wildcats closed its season at 3-6.
South finished its year with a 17-2 win at Lexington. The Tigers went 6-6.