Struggling bats doom varsity War Eagles

Published 8:36 am Thursday, April 2, 2015

With Davie’s baseball team facing highly-ranked Reynolds twice last week, the War Eagles got the pitching they wanted and for the most part they got the defense they needed.

They just didn’t get the hitting. Twice they made the favorite sweat. But twice they came away empty-handed, losing 2-0 at Reynolds and 1-0 at home to the Demons.

The running score through seven games is 15 runs for Davie and 15 runs for opponents. Davie (3-4, 1-4 Central Piedmont Conference) is averaging 2.1 runs on an average of 4.1 hits.

“Whenever the door opens, there’s going to be a flood,” coach Bobby Byerly said. “We’re that close, that close, to being 7-0. We’re that close to being really, really good. We’re doing two of the three things that it takes to being a good team. We’ve just got to start hitting the ball. How many times have you heard of a team going 0-2 against the No. 5 team in the state after giving up three runs and one earned?”

At Reynolds, Davie starter Isaac Campbell held up his end of the bargain by allowing two runs (one earned) on five hits in five innings. Nathan Harrell struck out two in a scoreless inning of relief.

Reynolds’ first run came in the fourth when cleanup man Laney Orr homered. Reynolds’ fifth-inning run was unearned as the leadoff man singled with one out, stole second and scored on a two-out error. The miscue was Davie’s first in four games.

“Campbell threw a whale of a game,” Byerly said after Campbell and Harrell combined on a six-hitter. “He got a pitch up to the Orr kid.”

Davie’s one error was one more than Reynolds had behind senior pitcher Logan Welch, who is headed to North Carolina. Welch showed why he’s bound for Chapel Hill, holding Davie to three hits, striking out nine and running his record to 4-0.

“There’s a reason he’s going to Carolina to play,” Byerly said. “When he drops down (sidearm), it’s nasty. We swung at two or three pitches that were in the lefthanded batter’s box when we made an attempt to hit it. He’s just hard-nosed and tough. He made adjustments to us when we didn’t make adjustments to him. That was the difference.”

Davie’s hits came from Mitchell McGee (1 for 2), Brandon Lankford (1-3) and Paul Davenport (1-3). “We just can not string anything together,” he said.

Davie pitcher Colby Cranfill stood eyeball to eyeball with Reynolds’ Ben Casstevens. Cranfill gave up five hits and one unearned run, and Casstevens allowed four hits in a pair of complete games.

But Cranfill’s mammoth effort was wasted in a 1-0 decision, Davie’s third shutout loss in four games. Reynolds remained in first at 8-1 overall and 4-0 in the CPC.

“Cranfill threw amazing,” Byerly said. “He was low in the zone. The second inning (when Reynolds got two runners aboard) was really the only threat they had (until the seventh). He stayed ahead all night long.”

Reynolds scratched out the game’s only run in the top of the seventh, when Davie committed two of its three errors. Again, the Demons played flawless in the field.

The first batter of the seventh singled. A back-pick attempt by the catcher was thrown away, and a sac bunt moved the runner to third. Cranfill got a strikeout for the second out. But then came a “swinging bunt.” Cranfill lost his footing on the wet grass, erasing him from potentially making the play. The result was a 1-0 Reynolds lead.

“What a bummer,” Byerly said. “Everything is magnified whenever you’re not getting the timely hits that you need. So every little mistake is magnified if you’re not scoring runs.”

Although Davie’s offense laid another egg with four hits, it mounted two serious threats. In the first, Chris Reynolds led off with a single. Davie had runners at the corners with one out, but a 6-4-3 double play kept it off the board.

In the fourth, Jalen Scott led off with a single and Lankford was hit by a pitch. A bunt moved them to second and third, and another hit by pitch loaded the bases with one out. Byerly lamented another opportunity lost as back-to-back comebackers kept the score 0-0.

After Davenport roped a two-out double in the seventh, a grounder to short ended the game.

Lankford reached base three times, going 1 for 1 with a walk and HPB. Reynolds, Scott and Davenport were all 1 for 3.