Baseball off to best start in 16 years

Published 10:02 am Friday, March 25, 2016

Aside from some errors here and there, the Davie varsity baseball team is playing exactly like the team coach Bobby Byerly wants it to be.

After sweeping Reagan last week, the War Eagles moved to 6-1 overall and 4-0 in the Central Piedmont Conference.

• The longest winning streak during last year’s 12-12, sixth-place finish was three. The 2016 War Eagles have won six straight, the longest streak in four years. Davie won six in a row in 2012 in Mike Herndon’s 14th and final year as coach.

• The 4-0 start in the CPC is the best in 16 years. The 2000 team opened 4-0. That club was led by Ross smith (.320 batting average), Drew Ridenhour (.318), Andrew Daywalt (.301) and pitcher Cody Wright (5-1 record, 2.85 ERA). “I was at East Davidson then,” coach Bobby Byerly said. “I didn’t even know where Davie County was.”

Win At Reagan

Isaac Campbell was absolutely spectacular at Reagan on March 15, throwing a one-hitter over 6 1/3 innings to lead a 4-0 victory. The senior lefty was two outs from a no-hitter. He walked three, struck out 10 and left after 111 pitches.

“I said, ‘Let me just get through these last three outs with that no-hitter,” Campbell told the Winston-Salem Journal. “But I give props to (Alex Goins). He hit that outside fastball. We won the game and that’s all I’m thinking about right now.”

After going 3 1/3 and five innings in his first two starts, Campbell, a Gardner-Webb signee, cruised to 2-0 following a snakebitten junior season in which he went 1-8 despite a 3.08 ERA in 50 innings.

“Unbelievable,” Byerly said. “A one-hitter. He threw his butt off. I still haven’t coached a no-hitter in my life. I’ve had some one-hitters, but never a no-no. He threw phenomenal. To this point, our pitching staff’s been top-notch. This is what we’ve been waiting for from Campbell. He was a little cloudy the first couple games. He’s had a couple times where he’s struggled to find the strike zone, but tonight he was dead on.”

Campbell set the tone in the first inning, striking out the side in order. He was perfect threw two.

He got help from catcher Paul Davenport in the fifth. After walking the first two batters, Davenport gunned down a runner at second with a pickoff laser to shortstop Ryan Harrell after Reagan had botched a bunt attempt.

“The guy couldn’t get the bunt down,” Byerly said. “Paul hosed the guy at second to get us out of a tough situation.”

Campbell struck out the side in the sixth. At that point, he had thrown 95 pitches. “I said we’re not pulling you,” Byerly said. “If you give up a hit, we’ve got to.”

Campbell struck out the first batter in the seventh, but the next man reached on an error. Lefthander Goins spoiled the no-hitter bid with a soft single the other way between short and third.

“It was a great 1-2 pitch,” Byerly said. “He just poked it over there. Not a word was said (about the no-hitter leading up to the seventh). They knew that etiquette of baseball.”

“He’s one of the best pitchers in the conference,” Reagan coach Gary Nail told the Journal. “You’ve got to tip your hat.”

After the Goins single, Byerly pulled Campbell and summoned Nathan Harrell. He only needed one pitch to record two outs and cement Davie’s third shutout in six games. He induced a 6-4-3 double play as R. Harrell fed second baseman Josh Byrd, who completed the twin killing with a throw to first.

Davie made the most of six hits. The big inning was the second, when Davie pushed across three runs. Beau Byerly walked with one out. After Mitchell McGee singled to center, Chris Reynolds singled on an 0-2 pitch. With the bases loaded, Jalen Scott singled to right on an 0-2 pitch. Davenport drew a bases-loaded walk on a full-count delivery, and with two outs, Craig Colbourne had a great at-bat. After falling behind 0-2, he got an RBI infield hit on the eighth pitch.

In the third, Reynolds had a loud sac fly to push the margin to 4-0. “He almost hit a grand slam,” Byerly said. “The left fielder caught it leaning against the wall.”

Reynolds paced the offense with two hits in three trips, including a double. Scott (1-3, walk), Colbourne (1-3, hit by pitch), N. Harrell (1-3) and McGee (1-2) had one hit each.

Game 2 Vs. Reagan

The game against Reagan at Rich Park on March 18 saw another stellar pitching performance by the War Eagles, who got a complete game from Scott. The senior gave up one earned run in an 8-4 win.

Seventy-eight of 109 pitches were strikes, he threw first-pitch strikes to 22 of 33 batters and he set Reagan (3-4, 1-3) down in order in the first, third and sixth to improve his record to 2-1. Oh, and it was Scott’s second straight complete game and lowered his ERA to 1.05.

“Every ball he throws has some kind of movement on it,” Byerly said. “He stays low in the zone for the most part. It was another great game for him.”

Davie bolted to a 2-0 lead in the first. After Reynolds walked, Scott singled on a two-strike offering. Then came a two-strike single from Davenport, followed by Brandon Lankford’s sac fly.

The momentum was short-lived, however. Two errors, two singles and a walk forced Scott to throw 29 pitches during Reagan’s three-run second.

“If we had not had a throw-up inning in the third, Jalen would have had an opportunity to throw a complete game with around 80 pitches,” Byerly said.

Davie didn’t flinch, scoring two runs in the fourth, two in the fifth and two in the sixth to easily offset three errors. Scott (2-4, double), Davenport (3-4, two RBIs, double) and Lankford (2-3, double) accounted for seven of Davie’s eight hits.

“Davenport’s been hitting it all year,” Byerly said. “It was a breakout game for Lankford. He’d been sputtering a little bit. He squared it up about every time today. He had really good at-bats.”

Although it didn’t matter in the end, Davie allowed more runs in this game than the previous five combined (three).