Whisenhunt stars in win over WF

Published 9:49 am Thursday, March 30, 2017

Davie varsity baseball team – welcome back from the dead and buried.

After getting outscored 19-5 during a three-game losing streak, including a 4-1 loss to West Forsyth in the first of two meetings with the Titans last week, the War Eagles revived their season with a 4-0 win over West.

The star in the win was Carson Whisenhunt the pitcher. The other star was Carson Whisenhunt the hitter. The sophomore pitched a two-hitter and knocked in the first two runs with a double.

But before Whisenhunt’s double-duty heroics, it was the same old, same old in a 4-1 loss at West on March 21. The punchless offense had two hits, one game after getting three against Reagan. The result was the longest losing streak (three) in three years. Davie closed the 2014 season with four consecutive defeats.

Tyler Roberts, the No. 3 batter in the order, had both the hits.

“I think we’re pressing,” coach Bobby Byerly said. “No. 1, we’re trying to do too much and trying to score three runs with one at-bat. And two, we’re taking too many freaking fastballs. We’re getting behind in the count, and in our conference you just can’t do that against good pitching. So that’s what is biting us. We’re playing young, immature baseball.”

Davie was betrayed by its defense in the bottom of the first. The leadoff man bunted and Davie threw it away. Another bunt followed and Davie committed another throwing error. The Titans had three runs before Davie recorded an out. Roberts, who went five innings on the mound, was fortunate to get out of the first trailing 3-0.

“We had a shaky first inning,” Byerly said. “After the first, the defense was sound.”

West never got out of sight because of Roberts (five innings, three hits, two earned runs) and Landon Bandy, who got three outs in nine pitches in his first varsity appearance on the mound. They combined for a three-hitter as Davie’s ERA dropped to 2.48. But it couldn’t prevent Roberts’ first varsity loss in seven decisions because Davie was handcuffed by Gianni Smith (5 2/3 innings, two hits, one run, five walks, eight Ks) and Connor Monroe (three Ks in 1 1/3 innings).

Roberts permitted just one hit from the second through the fifth.

“Tyler threw great,” Byerly said. “The only hiccup he had, he kind of hesitated on one of the bunts and didn’t make the play. He settled in. They had two hard-hit balls all night and we had one (by Roberts).”

Davie got within 3-1 in the third. McKay Chamberlain, Ben Summers and Chris Reynolds coaxed walks before Roberts came up with a run-scoring single.

Reynolds’ 12-game hitting streak died, although he reached twice (walk, hit by pitch). It was his first hitless game since a 4-2 win at Mt. Tabor on April 21, 2016. Along with hitting .444, he leads the team in walks/HBPs with six.

While West improved to 6-2 overall and 3-0 in the Central Piedmont Conference, Davie’s batting average dropped to .214.


Davie was all but done and dusted, right? Not quite. Thank you, thank you, thank you Whisenhunt. He waved a magic wand with his left hand and engineered a 4-0 home win over West on March 24.

The sophomore lefty went seven innings in 90 pitches, walked one and struck out six in his two-hitter. It was just about a life-or-death performance. With West and North Davidson tied for first at 3-1, Reagan is third at 4-2. Davie and Tabor are tied for fourth at 3-3. A loss and Davie would have fallen completely off the radar.

Whisenhunt (3-1) owns half the wins for Davie (6-4 overall). He is responsible for both of the staff’s complete games. His lowered his ERA from 2.45 to 1.81. And he answered a rocky outing against Reagan (three innings, six hits, eight runs, six earned runs, six walks in an 11-1 loss) with a monster performance.

“He stayed consistent around the strike zone and changed speeds,” Byerly said. “After the early innings, he started locating his breaking ball and kept them offstride. He kept his composure and it’s very easy to lose it against West sometimes. He sure didn’t throw like a sophomore this game.”

West threatened with two outs in the first, loading the bases with a single, walk, single. Third baseman Landon Bandy kept West off the board by getting an out at first.

West had a runner at second with one out in the second. Catcher Cody Hendrix made a big play on a “swinging bunt.” Then Whisenhunt induced a comebacker.

“It was a tough play,” Byerly said of Hendrix. “We kicked a couple behind Carson early. He could have gone in the well at that point, but he didn’t.”

West went down in order in the third. In the fourth, a Titan reached on an error. No problem. Whisenhunt picked him off.

“He’s gotten a lot better (with his pickoff move),” Byerly said. “North Davidson’s lefties are known for their pick moves, and Carson has really improved at that since last year. That’s another weapon you’ve got. You need all the weapons you can get in your bag.”

Whisenhunt put West away with flair, retiring the last 10 batters.

Davie’s offense, which had been beyond bad, showed signs of life while scoring the most runs in five games. The key was the third inning, when Beau Byerly walked with two outs and Roberts singled.

“Roberts had two hits in the first meeting, and he had some good at-bats again in this game,” Byerly said.

With Byerly and Roberts aboard, Whisenhunt roped a two-run double to opposite field in left-center. It was a confidence-booster for him and the team. Bandy followed with a run-scoring single down the first-base line. Davie had a 3-0 lead.

Davie tacked on one in the fifth, with Whisenhunt again playing a factor, albeit with help from West. A mile-high popup was misplayed off the catcher’s mitt. When Whisenhunt reached second, he noticed no one was at third, so he took off. He would score on a passed ball.

“We needed it big time,” Byerly said. “A win is always good medicine. It remedies a lot of ailments.”

The War Eagles hardly set the world on fire offensively (six hits), but much to Byerly’s delight, they hit some balls on the screws. Reynolds connected solidly four times, but only had one hit to show for it.

“Chris was snakebit,” Byerly said. “He hit three lasers (for outs). I mean absolute rockets right at somebody. (Hite) Merrifield had a couple good at-bats.”

Davie took a BS (bat speed) approach. Roberts, Whisenhunt, Bandy, Hendrix and Merrifield had one hit apiece.

“We’ve been struggling with the sticks and trying to find anything,” he said. “We said: ‘We’re going to have some BS swings.’ Everybody looked at us. I said: ‘All I want you to think about is bat speed. Swing hard. Just freakin’ swing hard.’ At least for one game, it made us look a lot better. So hopefully the BS swings will stick. Up and down the lineup, we kept yelling: ‘BS! BS!’ They were probably thinking: ‘What in the world are they talking about?’ After the first West game, we had a couple good rounds of BP. Hopefully the bats are waking up and moving in the right direction. A lot of that is confidence.”

Notes: Davie also split with West in 2016. … This was the first shutout win over West since a 1-0, nine-inning duel in 2013. In that one, Jeremy Walker pitched a two-hitter for seven innings and Jared Wolfe got the win in relief.