16 hits, 21 runs lift War Eagles

Published 10:00 am Thursday, March 22, 2018

Don’t try to figure out baseball.

Davie’s varsity entered a road game against West Rowan averaging 4.2 hits and 2.8 runs per game. Coach Bobby Byerly had been singing the offensive blues for quite a while, with the 2017 team hitting .227 with 5.8 hits and 3.2 runs on average.

But the offense awakened in a big way at West on March 15. The War Eagles banged out 16 hits off four pitchers and obliterated the Falcons 21-4. After picking up 21 hits and 14 runs across five games, the Davie bats were absolutely sensational while raising their batting average from .182 to .246.

“We squared up a good dozen balls,” Byerly said. “I mean we had some really good at-bats. One inning we squared up four straight laser beams (Hite Merrifield, Cody Hendrix, Garrett Chandler and Guy Brunelli). (Carson) Whisenhunt also did. I was just glad to see it.”

If Davie has ever scored 21 runs in a game, it happened before 1996. The War Eagles jumped on top 3-0 in the top of the first, when two hits and four walks got things rolling. West certainly helped Davie with 16 walks.

Things got ridiculous in the sixth, when Davie sent 18 batters to the plate and pushed across 12 runs on six hits, six walks, a hit batsman and two errors.

“You always hear that hitting is contagious,” he said. “Somebody would get on and it snowballed. It was one of those nights you enjoy as a coach. The last two games have been a joy to be out there.”

Landon Bandy (3 for 5), Merrifield (3-6, three RBIs), Brunelli (2-4, three RBIs, two walks), Hendrix (2-2, two RBIs, three walks), Whisenhunt (2-4, five RBIs, two walks) and Michael Shelton (2-3, walk, HBP) enjoyed multiple hits. Aaron Williams was 1 for 1 with four walks. Chandler was 1 for 4. Chandler, Hendrix and Whisenhunt rapped triples.

“(Chandler’s triple) was a missile on the ground just out of the reach of the center fielder and rolled to the wall,” he said. “It was a shot. He’s the fastest guy in the school.”

Hendrix and Whisenhunt’s triples landed in the right-center gap.

“The second baseman didn’t want much more,” he said. “We wore out the back side, which is what we’ve been wanting to see.”

Five War Eagles left the diamond with .300-plus averages, led by Whisenhunt at .363 (4-11). Bandy and Brunelli are both at .350, each 7 for 20. Merrifield stands at .315 (6-19) and Williams at .300 (3-10).

“I’m seeing things that we’ve worked on in practice come to fruition,” he said.

Bandy, who was splendid in his previous outing, couldn’t find his control, walking five in 2.1 innings. “Landon struggled up in the zone,” Byerly said. “Walks will kill you, and that bit us early in the game.”

It hardly mattered because of the raging bats and Grayson Keaton’s strong relief. The lefty earned the win by going 3.2 innings with one unearned run and one walk. It marked the first varsity win for the junior. His ERA through 5.2 innings is perfect (0.00).

“It’s a lot easier to throw when you’re up a little bit, but Grayson came in in a tough situation,” Byerly said. “He does well; he stays around the plate. I told him from now on I want him in the stretch in bullpens. He’s one of those guys who’s much more comfortable from the windup than he is the stretch. He did a great job.”

The cherry on the 17-run margin was Hendrix, who was a stud behind the plate.

“Cody came up big again because Landon was burying breaking balls,” Byerly said. “Cody earned his keep behind the plate. He blocked every breaking ball.”

Hendrix did not get to showcase his rocket arm.

“Looking at their stats, we had seen that they had four attempted steals every game,” he said. “They didn’t attempt one against us. We got ahead early, so that might have made a difference. But when you see Cody throw a couple times down there, you pull back.”

While West dropped to 2-3, Davie squared its record at 3-3 with its second straight win.