Davie baseball shuts out two opponents

Published 8:46 am Thursday, March 10, 2016

Davie’s varsity baseball team pushed Lake Norman to the edge before losing 5-4. Davie healed the wounds from that season-opening loss by shutting out Ledford and South Iredell.

When Davie visited Lake Norman on Feb. 29, it was a matchup of two teams dreaming big in 2016. It was two teams ready for a seven-inning brawl. The War Eagles led 2-0 before finding themselves in a 4-2 hole. They rallied to tie the game at 4. The Wildcats prevailed in the bottom of the seventh.

Lake Norman is ranked fourth in the state in 4-A, but Davie believes it can play with anybody. It was a great battle.

“It was an intense game, to say the least,” Davie coach Bobby Byerly said. “I’m pleased. We had some good at-bats. That’s one of the top teams in the state. They are all seniors and one sophomore. It was a good test coming out of the gate.”

The deciding factor: Two Davie pitchers combined for nine walks, although one was intentional. Isaac Campbell and Jalen Scott gave up two hits each as Davie outhit LN 10-4. But it wasn’t enough because of the free passes.

In the bottom of the fourth, when Lake Norman turned Davie’s 2-0 lead into a 4-2 Wildcat advantage, the ‘Cats were helped by four walks. A double followed.

“Isaac was just about perfect for three innings,” Byerly said. “A runner got on in the fourth, and Isaac said he hadn’t thrown from the stretch and he couldn’t get comfortable.”

Davie wouldn’t be denied in its final at-bat, scratching out a run in the top of the seventh to tie the score at 4. Mitchell McGee led off with a walk. Chris Reynolds attempted a sac bunt but wound up with a bunt hit. A double play left McGee at third with two outs, but he raced home on a wild pitch. After Brandon Lankford walked and Craig Colbourne singled, Davie later had runners at second and third. It had LN on the ropes, but a strikeout looking gave the Wildcats new life.

A one-out walk in the bottom of the seventh set Lake Norman’s winning rally in motion. A stolen base put the runner in scoring position. With two outs, LN walked off victoriously on a hit to left-center.

Scott, who went 3 1/3 innings in relief, was tagged with the loss. The walks hurt, obviously. But it was impressive to see Campbell and Scott combine for 11 strikeouts against an offense of this caliber.

“One big inning,” Byerly said. “Other than that, I was proud of them. Other than nine walks, we played well. Jalen struggled at the beginning and walked in a run. He settled down. I hope we don’t see many teams with a lineup like they have. They were good all the way through the lineup.”

Paul Davenport (2 for 3, two RBIs, double) and Reynolds (2-4, double) paced the attack as Davie made noise against a relief pitcher who has committed to Charleston. Lankford (1-2, double), Scott (1-2), McGee (1-3), Nathan Harrell (1-3), Colbourne (1-4) and Ryan Harrell (1-4) had one hit each.

The War Eagles are 0-4 all-time against Lake Norman. They lost 8-6 in ‘12, 7-4 in ‘14 and 13-7 in eight innings in ‘15.

Win Over Ledford

The War Eagles stomped visiting Ledford 10-0 in four and half innings on March 4. It was 1-0 going into the last of the fourth, when Davie broke loose to win by the mercy rule.

Reynolds (2-4, two RBIs, two steals), Davenport (2-3, walk), Beau Byerly (2-3, double) and McGee (2-2, two steals) paced a 12-hit attack. Davie got one hit from Scott (1-3, two RBIs), Lankford (1-2, walk, hit by pitch), R. Harrell (1-3, double) and N. Harrell (1-2, walk).

“They threw their No. 3 (pitcher),” Byerly said. “He definitely didn’t throw as hard as the guy from Lake Norman. He threw a lot of offspeed stuff. For the first three innings, we were way out in front. But we adjusted. The second time through the order, we started hitting it.”

N. Harrell dominated on the hill, going all five innings with a two-hitter and throwing 38 strikes out of 58 pitches. Shortstop R. Harrell and left fielder Reynolds made highlight plays in the field.

“Ryan made a great play up the middle,” Byerly said. “He dove, caught it, got up and threw him out.

“On a hit down the left-field line, Reynolds threw him out at second.”

Win Over S. Iredell

Facing a future Western Carolina pitcher, Davie’s offense was lackluster at South Iredell on March 5. A 1-0 win was made possible by terrific pitching from Tyler Roberts and Scott – and a take-one-for-the-team at-bat by Caleb Wallace.

In his varsity debut, Roberts, a junior, tossed 4 1/3 scoreless innings with six strikeouts. He delivered 48 strikes and 28 balls. Scott entered in the fifth and picked up the save. He never permitted a hit to cap a combined three-hitter.

“Roberts threw a gem,” Byerly said as Davie improved to 2-1. “He located really well. He had three pitches working for him, and he kept it low in the zone for the most part. Velocity-wise, he probably throws harder than anybody we’ve got. So that helps.

“Scott was a little bit down after the Lake Norman game. If his changeup is on, it’s nasty. And he was on. So we just hung with that changeup. They either didn’t make any contact or hit a grounder. When he’s on, that’s what he gives you.”

Ryan Mitschele of S. Iredell was hard to handle in his four innings of work. He checked Davie on three hits.

“He was nasty,” Byerly said. “To me, he was the filthiest pitcher we’ve faced so far. He threw mid- to upper 80s. He had a great breaking ball and threw a knuckle-curve. He was very impressive.”

Like S. Iredell, Davie only managed three hits. The game’s only run was not produced by a hit. Instead, it was decided by a hit by pitch.

In the top of the third, Byerly laced a one-out single to center. McGee walked and Reynolds reached on a bunt hit to load the bases. Wallace drove in the decisive run in unconventional fashion, hanging tough after getting down 0-2 in the count and coaxing a hit by pitch on the sixth pitch of the at-bat.

South threatened in the fifth, putting a runner at second with one out. Scott worked out of it, getting a strikeout and inducing a fly to McGee in center. Scott cruised through the sixth and seventh.

Reynolds (1-3), R. Harrell (1-3) and Byerly (1-2) had Davie’s hits. In the aftermath of a dicey win, Byerly said the bats need to pick it up a little.

“We’ve preached all year – don’t miss the fastball,” he said. “No. 2, you can’t get down in the count and trust the umpire. Trust yourself more than the umpire with two strikes. A couple of times we took strike three with runners in scoring position. You can’t do that. Just put the ball in play at that point. We’ve got to get better at that. We’re working on it.”