Randolph ends Mocksville Legion season

Published 10:05 am Thursday, July 14, 2016

You could feel magic in the air when Mocksville broke out with a three-run first inning in another elimination game against Randolph County on July 9.

But in the fourth, Randolph began to take a sledgehammer to Mocksville’s hopes, and the visitors pounded the local American Legion baseball team into tiny pieces, winning 15-4 in game four of the second-round, best-of-five series. Randolph won the series three games to one. The game was played at 3 o’clock in the afternoon. Had Mocksville prevailed, game five would have followed after a short break.

“Our defense was shot,” coach Charles Kurfees said. “They had a runner on first and bunted the ball straight to the pitcher. They were giving us an out when we were up 3-0. And we were hollering go to second. Now there’s runners at first and second. You’ve got to take the out.”

Mocksville might have been outclassed by a 24-8 power, but it was also a little unlucky in its final game of the season.

“We had runners at first and second when we were down 6-4,” Kurfees said. “This is when we were fixing to really do something. Beau Byerly hit one right down the third-base line. The third baseman catches the ball right on top of the bag and turns a double play. We were snakebit.

“Their second baseman was playing right behind second base. We hit it straight up the middle and he’s right there at the bag. It was almost like a shift. We hit into that about three different times during the series.”

Colby Cranfill (2-5, RBI) and Caleb Wallace (2-3, hpb) had two hits each to lead Mocksville’s nine-hit attack. Byerly (1-5), Paul Davenport (1-5), Ryan Harrell (1-4, RBI), Craig Colbourne (1-5, RBI) and Henry Stone (1-4) had one each.

That wasn’t nearly enough on a day when Randolph piled up 21 hits against three of Mocksville’s four pitchers. With the coaching staff trying its best to stitch together parts on the mound, it was the most hits allowed in three years, or 106 games. Mocksville gave up 22 in a 13-9 loss to Randolph in 2013.

But it was Mocksville, which stayed alive the night before with a pulsating 3-2 win, that quickly gained the upper hand. Byerly (single), Davenport (single) and Harrell (error) reached with one out. Then Colbourne (single) and Jalen Scott (walk) got on with two outs as Mocksville took the 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first.

Randolph was undaunted, scoring five runs in the second, one in the fourth, one in the seventh, four in the eighth and four in the ninth.

After the second, Mocksville got as close as 5-4 when Harrell’s sac fly plated Wallace. In a span of six innings, Mocksville had just three hits.

In the Randolph fourth, its leadoff man blasted his third homer of the series. It was manageable at 6-4 heading into the seventh, but the game spiraled out of control in the eighth and ninth.

Cranfill (2-1) went 6 1/3 innings in his first start on the mound in 15 days. He silenced Stanly County 13-3 with seven innings on June 24, but he suffered his first loss in this one. Stone went 1 2/3 and Carson James 2/3 in relief before Kurfees gave the ball to Myles Evans with two outs in the ninth. Evans got a fly out from the only batter he faced, and he received a standing ovation. The first-year Senior Legion player got on the field for the first time this season. It was a touching scene.

Although a fourth straight season ended with a losing record at 11-16, there were lots of positives.  “We didn’t quit,” Kurfees said. “You’ve got to really appreciate that.”

• Davenport closed with a seven-game hitting streak. He led the team in average (.380), runs (23), homers (four) and RBIs (21).

• Hutchins was second at .375, and he was first in hits (42) and stolen bases (nine).

• Colbourne had a remarkable turnaround to finish at .300, including an 11-game hitting streak through the final game and a team-high 10 doubles. “He did everything we asked,” said Kurfees, who completed his seventh year at the helm. “He only missed one sign all year. He ended up .300. Ain’t that something? He got it done.”

• Cranfill hit .418 (18 for 43), although he needed 54 at-bats (a minimum of two per game) to qualify for the .400 club. “If he had not been injured at the first of the season (and also later in the season), he may have gotten it.”

• Harrell’s three-run homer was the difference in the 3-2 win in game three and he hit a solid .318. … Byerly had a team-high 17 walks/hit by pitches to go with a .281 clip.

Kurfees tipped his cap to Randolph, which produces a quality team every year.

“They’re about as solid as any team I’ve seen in a long, long time,” he said. “They don’t have those studs on the mound, but they are loaded with eight position players.”