Baseball rises to 2nd in CPC

Published 9:25 am Thursday, April 19, 2018

If you didn’t think Davie’s varsity baseball team was a legitimate title contender before the season, maybe it’s time you reconsider.

The War Eagles entered the week in second place in the Central Piedmont Conference, one game behind East Forsyth. Davie and East meet twice this week. East is 5-1 in the league, followed by Davie at 4-2 and West Forsyth at 3-3. Reynolds, Reagan and Glenn are 2-4.

The War Eagles were offensive demons last week, sweeping Glenn and thumping West Caldwell in a nonconference game.

At home against Glenn on April 10, Davie held off the Bobcats 11-8. Considering Glenn had defeated East and Reagan and considering Davie had been idle for 11 days, coach Bobby Byerly was thrilled with the win.

“We’re young and little for the most part. But we’re performing,” he said.

It wasn’t easy even though Davie tripled Glenn in hits (15-5). Glenn struck out 13 times against Carson Whisenhunt and Landon Bandy, but it hung around by drawing nine walks.

“We struggled on the bump,” he said. “Thank goodness it was a night we had 15 hits.”

Davie’s 5-0, second-inning lead was all but gone by the sixth, when Glenn scored two to get within 9-8. Part of Davie’s success has been a testament to Cody Hendrix’s offense and skills at catcher. His rocket arm was a factor in the sixth when Glenn had runners at the corners and two outs with the score 9-8. Glenn coach Keith Walker gave the runner at first the steal sign, and Hendrix threw a strike to second baseman Jacob Campbell to end the inning.

“We called for a throw through, and Cody absolutely hammered the guy by a good five or six feet,” Byerly said. “If he had not mowed that guy down, they would have taken the lead with a base hit.”

Davie picked up two insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth. Grayson Keaton, who came out of nowhere with three hits and two RBIs, opened it with a single to center. Campbell’s bunt was errored. Garrett Chandler sac bunted Keaton and Campbell to second and third. After Hite Merrifield was intentionally walked, Landon Bandy delivered an RBI double. Campbell was thrown out at home on the play, but Hendrix and Whisenhunt drew back-to-back walks, the latter plating a run for an 11-8 cushion.

Whisenhunt needed 87 pitches to get through 4.1 innings, but he benefitted from his offense to square his record at 2-2. Only three of six runs off him were earned as his ERA remained a steady 2.76. Bandy did not exactly wrap it up in tidy fashion over 2.2 innings, but he did enough to earn the save.

“(The two pitchers) couldn’t find an offspeed pitch,” Byerly said.

They also benefitted from four double plays, with shortstop Michael Shelton and Campbell turning two 4-6-3s and one 6-4-3. But the most impressive twin killing was a 5-2-3 beauty with the bases loaded. Aaron Williams, who moved from right field to third base when Bandy came on in relief, started it with a throw to Hendrix.

“It was a screamer down the third-base line,” Byerly said. “Aaron goes to his knees, gets to his feet and throws to the plate. That got us out of a huge inning (in the fifth when Glenn scored one to make it 9-6).”

Williams is a sophomore who won Byerly’s heart the first day of practice.

“You talk about a utility player,” he said. “He can play anywhere. It’s hard to ever take him off the field. I told them one day at practice: ‘Your goal for the remainder of the year is to beat Aaron on or off the field.’ He sprints on and off. He’s just polished.”

Davie produced all kinds of hitting heroes on a day when it won in unlikely fashion. It had dropped 17 straight games when allowing eight or more runs. The last win under those conditions was 18-17 at North Davidson in 2014.

Bandy (3-5, double), Hendrix (3-4, double, walk), Whisenhunt (3-3, four RBIs, two walks) and Keaton (3-4, two RBIs, double) had three hits each. Merrifield singled, scored twice, walked and executed a suicide squeeze. Williams singled and walked twice. Garrett Chandler laced a triple.

Hendrix was 0 for 10 after four games. He went 12 for 23 over the next eight. Think about that.

On the double, Hendrix sent a pitch screaming to deep left-center. “I have no earthly clue how it did not get out of here,” Byerly said. “I had already started making my way to the plate. He absolutely launched the thing. I thought it was going to hit the scoreboard. He probably hit it 370.”

Whisenhunt’s No. 1 average soared to .433. Chandler owns three of the team’s six triples, the most by a War Eagle in seven years. Alex Newman had three in 2011.


Davie played its first game without an integral part of its lineup. Senior Guy Brunelli, who plays first baseman mostly and some right field, pulled a hamstring running to first in the previous game at West Forsyth on March 29. He batted second in the opener and leadoff for the next 10 games. Through six games, he defined Davie’s offense, hitting .350 while the team sputtered along at .246. He suffered a 2-for-20 slump to drop to .225, but he’s a gamer who would have bounced back in due time. If he’s unable to return this season, at least he’s got Legion and he’s got a future at Surry Community College.

“I love him,” Byerly said. “He’s Mr. Statistician, too. He knows every stat about every major league player. He studies the game. He’s a great kid.”


Cody Smith and Hendrix stopped Davie’s 15-game homer-less drought with third-inning drives, and Davie’s offensive parade continued during a 16-6 nonconference win at West Caldwell on April 11.

Smith deposited the first long ball of ‘18 and Hendrix followed with a blast as Davie pushed a 5-1 lead to 10-1. The result was predictable as the 3-A Warriors dropped to 2-14 with their sixth loss in a row.

Davie outhit West 13-8 and got two hits from Merrifield (2-3, two doubles, walk), Bandy (2-5, three RBIs), Hendrix (2-3, three RBIs) and Keaton (2-4, double). Hendrix was a sizzling 14 for 26 over nine games.

The winning pitcher was Campbell, who went 4.2 innings. Justin Chaffin threw 23 of 29 pitches for strikes while recording seven outs.


Spencer Nifong doesn’t wow you during warmups, but the sophomore wouldn’t wobble in an earthquake. He was really, really good – again – as Davie suffocated Glenn 7-0 in Kernersville on April 13.

Davie is 9-5 overall. Last year it was 6-8 through 14 games.

Nifong and 6-1 freshman Garrett Horn, a pair of lefties, put up zeroes in the first four innings. Horn spit the bit in the fifth and Nifong kept on rolling, finishing with a four-hitter, one walk and six Ks. He threw 77 strikes, 28 balls, faced four batters over the minimum and turned in his third complete game in five starts. Oh, and for the year he’s 3-2 with a 1.25 ERA, with five walks and 25 Ks in 28 innings. His cool demeanor serves him well.

“He never shows emotion,” Byerly said. “As a matter of fact, one of the kids before the game said: ‘Spencer, are you pumped up for tonight?’ He said: ‘I just try to stay even keel.’”

Nifong faced nine batters in the first three innings. With the score 0-0, Glenn threatened in the fourth. Two outs were followed by a walk and two singles. The bases were loaded. Nifong responded with a strikeout. Then he retired nine of 10 batters in the fifth, sixth and seventh.

“Whenever he’s on, he’s a tough nut to crack,” Byerly said. “Until they see that thing spin up there, they’re probably licking their chops watching him in the bullpen. Then he gets up there and starts throwing the knuckle-curve and man, it makes good hitters look silly at times. He threw an unbelievable game.”

So did Horn, until Davie’s offense came alive in the fifth. He had a one-hitter for four innings, the only hit coming from Williams.

“I’m going to tell you what, he’s going to be something to be reckoned with,” Byerly said. “He throws hard and he had us offstride for four innings. He’s tough.”

Chandler lit the fifth-inning fire with a single to left-center and a one-out stolen base. With two outs, Merrifield and Bandy drew walks. Horn got the hook. The reliever walked Hendrix after getting ahead 0-2 in the count. The floodgates opened as Whisenhunt produced a two-run single to center and Williams a two-run double to left-center. Hunter Bowles kept the rally going with a run-scoring single the opposite way in the five-six hole. Bowles would later score on a passed ball to make it 7-0.

Bowles, who earlier executed a sac bunt, “battled, battled and battled (before getting a hit),” Byerly said. “He had a line-out in another at-bat. He had a great night.”

Williams had two of Davie’s five hits. Hendrix was finally held hitless, but he compensated with two walks.

Notes: Whisenhunt is hitting .416 with 12 walks, 16 team-high RBIs and a seven-game hitting streak. … Talk about a turnaround, Hendrix is hitting .368 with 16 walks after hitting .239 with seven walks in 2017. … Merrifield (.386) has hit and/or walked in all 14 games. “He got robbed (at Glenn),” Byerly said. “I mean he hit a freakin’ missile to right-center. The center fielder laid out and made an ESPN top 10 play.” … Bandy has been big all year, hitting .352.