Davie baseball beats Mt. Tabor

Published 10:39 am Thursday, April 28, 2016

It’s amazing how much better you feel about a split when your win comes in the rematch.

Davie’s varsity baseball team pulled a clunker in game one with Mt. Tabor. The April 19 contest at Mando Field saw the War Eagles get drilled 8-2. At the time, their season lost some luster.  But on the other hand, Tabor is at its best when Jason Jenkins has the ball. The North Carolina A&T signee went the distance, struck out nine and picked up a well-deserved win for a guy who has a 1.24 ERA in 45 innings. He had been mired in hard luck, arriving at Davie’s park with a 1-3 record.

Tabor’s sixth straight win made it 14-7 overall and 7-4 in the Central Piedmont Conference. The end of Davie’s three-game winning streak dropped it to 12-4, 6-3.

“(Jenkins) topped out at 91 (mph) and his slider was 84-85,” Tabor coach Mike Lovelace said.

Tabor’s top three batters are future Division-I players in Mike McHugh (Presbyterian), Cole Weiss (UNC Wilmington) and Jenkins. They combined for six hits and five RBIs for the Spartans, who ambushed Jalen Scott in the first two innings. The result was a 7-0 deficit that became 8-0 in the fourth. How bad a day was it for Davie? Even Nathan Harrell, who had thrown 14 scoreless innings, allowed one run in five relief innings, ending his long-standing 0.00 ERA and making it a still-impressive 0.38.

“They had quite a few seeing-eye singles in the first two innings,” Davie coach Bobby Byerly said. “They had one really hard-hit ball, but I’ve got to give it to them. They put the ball in play and we didn’t. They hit it better and threw it better. And Jenkins shoved it.”

N. Harrell was responsible for half of Davie’s four hits and both RBIs, coming on a two-run single in the fourth.

Davie 4, N. Iredell 2

Davie’s 4-2 home nonconference victory over North Iredell won’t be recalled as the greatest win in the school’s annals – the Raiders are 1-16 – but it was a memorable day for future front-line hurler Zach Hudspeth, a junior lefty who made his varsity debut at Mando Field on April 20.

Hudspeth went the whole way, scattering seven hits, walking none and throwing 55 strikes out of 82 pitches.

“For his first appearance on varsity, he looked great. He really did,” Byerly said. “He threw a heck of a game.”

Chris Reynolds (3-4, two doubles) and Paul Davenport (2-3, two RBIs) did the most damage as Davie established a 4-0 lead before letting North back in it in the sixth.

“They’re not a regular 1-16 team,” Byerly said. “They hit it decent and they didn’t make many mistakes in the field. We just can’t string anything together. We’re taking too many fastballs.”

Davie 4, Tabor 2

Davie got payback at Tabor on April 21. Davenport and Brandon Lankford, two middle-of-the-order stalwarts, allowed Davie to pretty much lock up the No. 2 seed for the Central Piedmont Conference Tournament by delivering game-changing hits.

Lankford reached base four times. A third War Eagle – Ryan Harrell – had two hits to match Davenport and Lankford.

But the story was also about Isaac Campbell’s turnaround from a shaky first inning, when Tabor picked up where it left off two days earlier and jumped to a 2-0 lead. Campbell’s fourth pitch of the game went for a single. His eighth pitch went for a single. His 12th pitch resulted in a sac fly. His 22nd pitch in the first inning went for a single.

At which time Campbell began to deal. From the second through the seventh, the senior lefty was terrific. He allowed one harmless hit after the first, struck out eight, improved to 3-1 and lowered his ERA to 2.41.

“When you allow three hits to start the game, you start thinking: ‘Oh, Lord,’” Byerly said. “They just had good at-bats. Against eight of the first 10 batters, Isaac got to a 1-2 count. They did a good job with their two-strike approach and hit good pitches.

“At the end of the game, he was throwing absolute smoke. He battled and battled. He had another great outing.”

Davie’s offense came alive in the third. After Mitchell McGee (walk) and Scott (hit by pitch) reached, Davenport, the team’s top hitter, produced his team-high seventh double to right-center to get Davie on the board. Scott scored the tying run on a wild pitch.

The cleanup man, Craig Colbourne, sparked the decisive rally in the fifth, his single up the middle coming with one out. Tabor’s starter, Nick Eller, got the hook from Lovelace, and Weiss moved from shortstop to the mound. Lankford was ready, taking the first pitch he saw to right for a single. One out later, N. Harrell put Davie in front with a double. His twin brother, Ryan, reached on an error to make it 4-2.

“If there’s anybody who’s deserving of all-conference, it’s Nathan,” Byerly said. “He’s done it pitching. Defensively, he’s been near perfect. And I don’t know how many clutch hits he’s had.”

In the seventh, Campbell finally enjoyed his first 1-2-3 inning. His work made Davie (14-4, 7-3) 7-2 in games decided by two runs or less. It was not that way in 2015, when Davie lost six of 11 one- or two-run games.


• Davie is all but locked in at second in the regular-season race. North Davidson is 8-1, West Forsyth 7-2 and Davie 7-3. North and West meet twice this week, while Davie should cruise twice against last-place Parkland.

• The top averages belong to Davenport (.368), N. Harrell (.340), Reynolds (.333) and Lankford (.326). Coaches pay more attention to on-base percentage, and that is where Lankford is on top. Thanks to 17 walks/hit by pitches, he owns a .500 OBP. The others over .400 in that category: Reynolds .407, McGee .432 and N. Harrell .415.

• Lankford has not left the yard after clubbing six homers in 2015, but he’s not getting a lot to hit either. “I think they’re pitching around him a little bit,” Byerly said. “They know Brandon, and he looks like a manchild up there.”

• McGee is one of the best No. 9 batters you will find. He’s like a second leadoff man. “He always figures out a way on,” Byerly said. “It may be a swinging bunt and it may be an error. Somehow or another, he figures out a way to get on.”