Junior Legion clinches title

Published 9:47 am Thursday, June 28, 2018

By Andrew Marshall

Davie Enterprise Record

Beaven Arey came up big from the nine hole and from left field. Zach Rodgers, Troy Clary, Hunter Meacham and Joe Johnson were other heroes in the Mocksville Junior Legion baseball team’s title-clinching 3-2 home win over East Rowan on June 21.

The win clinched the Midarea Conference championship with two games to spare. Mocksville reached 13-4 overall and 10-0 in the conference by winning eight straight and 11 of 12.

Mocksville drew first blood in the bottom of the first inning with a sacrifice fly from Ethan Wilkins, scoring Clary, who reached via a two-strike triple.

Mocksville manufactured two runs in the bottom of the sixth. It started with a leadoff triple by Johnson. Two outs later, East decided to intentionally walk Spencer Nifong.

“Spencer had been hot all night and they were trying to throw him away,” coach Tim McKnight said. “They got behind 2-0, so they walked him intentionally.”

After pinch-runner Justin Collins advanced to second on catcher’s indifference, Arey delivered one of the signature at-bats of the season, a two-run single that extended Mocksville’s lead to 3-0.

“What I like about Beaven is he’s another leadoff man (in the nine hole),” McKnight said. “The last couple of weeks, Beaven is starting to get comfortable at the plate. He’s starting to bunt the ball better. He’s starting to do the little things. He was hurt 90 percent of the year in JV. He’s gotten a chance to play in Junior Legion.”

Rodgers turned in a splendid performance on the hill. In six innings, he allowed two hits, walked none and struck out six. While Mocksville produced a hit in every inning but the fifth, Rodgers faced the minimum in four of six frames. He remained unbeaten (4-0) and chopped his ERA to 1.68. He has 41 Ks against six walks in 33.1 innings.

“Zach pitched phenomenal. That’s what Zach does,” said McKnight. “I was going to split (innings between Rodgers and Clary), but Zach was on such a roll that I stayed with him. I could tell he was getting tired in the sixth.”

Of course, the game could not end without some drama. When Rodgers plunked the first batter of the East seventh, McKnight summoned Clary. A two-out, two-run single cut Mocksville’s lead to 3-2, but Clary responded with a strikeout looking. His sixth relief outing yielded his first save.

The top two teams in the conference will receive playoff berths. Mocksville, of course, has one of them wrapped up.

“Now every team behind us has (at least) three losses,” he said. “We want to keep rolling, but it takes the pressure off.”

Meacham’s arm at catcher preserved Mocksville’s 1-0 lead in the third. When the batter whiffed at a safety-squeeze attempt, Meacham whipped a throw to third baseman Bailey McKnight for an out. In the fifth, Meacham threw out a runner trying to steal second.

“That (out at third in the third) was huge,” he said. “They get a leadoff double in a one-run game and they can’t score.”

Arey, playing left field, made a clutch catch in the sixth. His clutch hit would follow later in the inning.

“They hit one in the left-center gap that Arey ran down and made a really nice play – over the shoulder,” he said. “Blast to left-center and he ran it down.”

Notes: Nifong went 2 for 2 with a walk. Mocksville got one hit from Clary (1-4), Wilkins (1-2), Mecham (1-3), Johnson (1-3) and Arey (1-2). … Mocksville’s .300-plus hitters at this point were Johnson (.464), Meacham (.439), Wilkins (.386), Westmoreland (.347), Little (.326) and Arey (.308). Nifong (8-13, .615) would be the top hitter if he had enough at-bats to qualify.


Mocksville’s dominance between June 1-21 has rendered the rest of the regular season meaningless. Still, a nonconference game at Northwest Cabarrus on June 23 saw Mocksville stage a major rally in a 6-5 win.

It poured across five runs in the fifth to turn a 3-1 deficit into a 6-3 lead. Johnson’s single during the rally extended his hitting streak to seven games.

Clary (3-5) and Little (2-4) paced the offense as Mocksville enjoyed the longest winning streak (nine) in 10 years. Charles Kurfees’ 2008 team won 10 in a row. Reliever Clary (2.2 innings) got the win and Johnson retired two of two batters for the save.


In another nonconference game on June 24, Mocksville finally hit a wall, losing 10-0 at home to West Rowan.

Cade Bernhardt pitched a complete-game one-hitter to hand Mocksville (14-5 overall) its first loss since June 10. Little had Mocksville’s lone hit. By contrast, West tallied 12 hits off three Mocksville arms. West took command with a five-run second.

Brian Pitts contributed to this story.