Juniors Drop 2 After 3-0 Start
The Mocksville Junior Legion baseball team enjoyed a fast start – beating Asheboro, South Rowan and Winston-Salem – before dropping a pair over the weekend.
Forrest Barber came up big, and Chris Reynolds had two hits and also earned the win in relief as Mocksville rallied for a 9-7 home win over South Rowan in the second game of the season.
Forrest Barber got the rally going with a fourth-inning solo homer that cut South’s lead to 4-2. The highlight of a four-run fifth that turned the deficit into a 6-4 lead was Kyle Cookson’s textbook execution of a hit-and-run play.
It was a wild ending. South stormed to a 7-6 lead in the top of the sixth. In the bottom half, Mocksville struck for three runs to regain a 9-7 lead. With Beau Byerly and Reynolds aboard, Barber roped a two-run double to put Mocksville ahead by one. The game’s final run scored on a balk.
“I about pulled my hair out,” second-year coach Robbie Fox said of the roller-coaster win.
Fox employed four pitchers. Reynolds got the win by recording the final four outs. One game after picking up the save in a win at Asheboro, Reynolds inherited a two-on jam in the sixth with South ahead 7-6. He retired all four batters he faced.
Reynolds also went 2 for 3 with a walk. “He’s got the moxie to be a closer,” Fox said.
Fox added that Byerly hit the ball “really well. He hit one off the base of the fence.”
Mocksville blew a four-run lead in the next game at Winston-Salem but regained control to win 10-6.
“They started nine varsity players from various high schools,” Fox said after Mocksville ran its record to 3-0. “They had the two middle infielders from Mt. Tabor’s varsity. They had North Forsyth’s center fielder. They had three or four varsity kids from Reagan. I was real proud of our guys because we didn’t lay down.”
Winston erased all of Mocksville’s 5-1 lead in the fourth. Mocksville, though, restored order quickly, scoring four times in the fifth. After Byerly, Andrew Davidson and Jalen Scott reached base, Cody Hendrix’s drive one-hopped the left-field fence for a double. Hendrix is an eighth grader from Ellis.
After Jarrell Farmer pitched 3 1/3 innings, Dalton Oliver provided lights-out relief pitching. Seven of 11 outs recorded by Oliver were strikeouts.
“I asked him: ‘How’s your finger?’” Fox said of a blister that short-circuited Oliver’s first mound outing. “He said: ‘The blister’s gone. I’m ready.’ Man, he shut the door. He throws pretty hard to be a sophomore (at Starmount).”
Byerly was the offensive star with four hits in five at-bats. Oliver (2-2, two walks), Farmer (2-4), Mitchell McGee (2-4), Reynolds (2-5) and Barber (2-5) added two hits each.
If you like offense, the game at South Rowan was everything you could hope for. South pulled out the slugfest 15-13, handing Mocksville its first loss.
Mocksville won the first meeting 9-7.
No lead was safe. A six-run third gave Mocksville a 7-2 lead. A three-run homer highlighted South’s five-run third, and the game was tied at 7. Mocksville surged in front 9-7 in the fourth, but South answered with eight unanswered runs in the fourth and fifth to put Mocksville in a 15-9 hole.
Post 174/54 did not go quietly. It scored two in the sixth and two in the seventh.
“There was no question we hit the ball well,” Fox said. “We just couldn’t find outs, and they hit it where we weren’t.”
Mocksville collected three triples. Reynolds (4-5), Oliver (3-4, three-run triple), David Neal (2-2, triple), Byerly (2-3, two walks), Barber (2-4), Farmer (2-4, two RBIs, double) and McGee (2-4, triple) kept Mocksville in the game.
As strange as it sounds, Mocksville surrendered all those runs without committing an error.
“Their Senior Legion coach told me: ‘I’m going to tell you, y’all are by far the best team this Junior Legion team is going to face all year. We got lucky tonight,’” Fox said.
Mocksville could not protect a three-run lead, losing 7-4 at home to Kernersville on Sunday.
Kernersville got on the board in the first, but Mocksville’s four-run third staked pitcher Zach Hudspeth to a 4-1 lead. Hudspeth exited with the three-run cushion, but Kernersville snatched the game with a six-run sixth as Mocksville fell to 3-2.
Cody Smith, an eighth grader from North Davie, played extremely well. He had two solid hits and made a spectacular play at second. He ranged to his left, laid out, jumped to his feet and recorded the final out of an inning. The play evoked a high-five from assistant coach Bobby Byerly.