Jr. Legion wins four straight

Published 10:19 am Thursday, May 30, 2019

In wins over Carson and Statesville, the Mocksville Junior Legion baseball team turned to Plan B and kept its momentum rolling.

In a home nonconference game against Carson on May 20, Mocksville surrendered four runs in the top of the third and faced a 4-2 deficit when coach Mike Dinkins turned to Tyler Steele in relief. Steele worked 3.2 effective innings before Vance Visser closed the door in a 7-6 victory.

Mocksville got similar strong relief against Statesville.

Dinkins: “I told coach (Tim) McKnight: ‘We’re at Plan C.’ He said: ‘I didn’t think we talked about a Plan C.’ I said: ‘Well, we’ve got to come up with one.’ Tyler did exactly what we needed him to do. We needed to find a middle relief guy.”

Mocksville scored twice in the third to tie the score at 4. After falling behind 5-4, it surged to a 6-5 lead in the fifth. Carson tied it at 6 in the sixth and had its No. 2 batter leading off the seventh. But Visser only faced three batters in his one inning of relief as Mocksville turned a 6-4-3 double play to erase a walk.

Mocksville’s rally in the bottom of the seventh made Visser the winner. Visser helped himself with a leadoff single. Two fielder’s choices later, Beaven Arey was on first with two outs. He stole second, and when the ball got away, he took third.

“The ball popped about 10 feet from the shortstop, and durn if he didn’t go to third,” Dinkins said.

Arey came home with the clinching run when Carson errored Landon Lothrope’s grounder up the middle.

Givoni Mendez (3-4, two-run double) and Visser (2-4) were the offensive stars. Blake Little (1-3), Arey (1-3) and Ethan Wilkins (1-4) added hits.

Dinkins: “Their coach told me they were basically a full squad. It was a great game. There were several good defensive plays on both sides.”

Win Over Statesville

Mocksville experienced an early wobble when visiting Statesville jumped to a 4-0 lead in the top of the first in the Mid-Area Conference opener.

No problem. Steele and Lothrope dominated in relief and Arey (3-3), Justin Collins (3-3) and Little (3-5) powered an offensive onslaught as Mocksville won going away, 16-5 in six innings, on May 22.

Little and Chase Robertson prevented further damage in the first by turning a 6-4-3 double play. “They were jumping up and down (with the 4-0 lead),” Dinkins said.

By the end of the second, Mocksville was ahead 7-4. The margin swelled to 12-5 in the third, and Wilkins ended it early with a walk-off grand slam in the sixth.

Wilkins and Mendez both went 1-3, Visser 1-4 and Wesley Mason 1-1. Mason replaced leadoff man Trot Byerly, who left with a pulled hamstring.

Steele earned the win by allowing one run in 2.2 innings. Lothrope worked three hitless innings, striking out three to more than make up for four walks.

Win Over W. Forsyth

Mocksville felt even better after a 4-1 win over West Forsyth Blue in Clemmons on May 23. The nonconference win left Mocksville 4-1 overall with a four-game winning streak.

“It was nonconference but it’s a big rivalry,” Dinkins said.

Who earned the most attaboys? That would be complete-game pitcher Wilkins and Mendez, who went 3-4 with two doubles to account for nearly half of Mocksville’s hits.

Dinkins was especially thrilled with Wilkins, who tossed a four-hitter with no walks.

“Ethan pitched a gem,” Dinkins said. “It’s one of the best pitching performances I’ve seen. I was going: ‘OK, do I pull him (after the sixth)?’ He wouldn’t give me the ball. He said: ‘You’re not getting it.’ I said: ‘What?’ He said: ‘You’re not getting it.’ I said: ‘Here’s the deal. If two get on, you’re done.’ It was reminders of Colby Cranfill at Ellis in the championship game in middle school in 2009. Ethan was on.”

Mocksville broke on top in the third. Little singled with one out and Wilkins walked. After a double steal, Little scored on Visser’s flyout. Mocksville padded the lead to 4-0 in the fourth. Wilkins (walk), Mendez (double) and Arey (single) got on before Robertson doubled down the right-field line.

When West got a two-out base runner in the seventh, Dinkins started out of the dugout. Wilkins shook off the coach. He responded with a game-ending strikeout.

JT Bumgarner (1-1, walk, HBP), Little (1-2), Arey (1-2, two walks) and Robertson (1-4) had one hit each.

Loss To Randolph

A 7-1 loss at Randolph County on May 25 wasn’t what Mocksville (4-2) had in mind. The first loss since opening day against Kannapolis was a dud.

“We played horrible,” Dinkins said. “Not many positives.”

Mocksville gave up six unearned runs and only managed two hits. Wilkins (1-3) and Reed Cunningham (1-2, RBI) had the hits.