Davie still in hunt for baseball title
Published 9:10 am Thursday, May 27, 2021
By Brian Pitts
Zach Rodgers continued to shine on the mound, reliever Bayden Hazlip slammed the door and Beaven Arey delivered the knockout blow with a fourth-inning hit as Davie’s varsity baseball team stayed in the Central Piedmont Conference hunt with a 4-1 home win over Glenn on May 20.
Reagan is 6-0 in the league. Davie (5-1) and East Forsyth (4-2) are second and third, and they meet twice this week. Davie and Reagan collide next week.
Rodgers held Glenn to one unearned run over four innings despite being less than full strength. He had been sick all week. His 61-pitch effort was all heart.
“He hadn’t been to school since Monday,” coach Bradley Rudisill said. “He didn’t even make the trip to Glenn (on Tuesday). We sort of knew it was going to be a shorter outing (after he tossed two complete games earlier).”
The senior righthander scattered five hits, improved to 3-1 and lowered his flashy ERA to 1.27.
“I wanted him to gut it out and he battled,” Rudisill said.
Glenn might be 0-6 in the CPC, but it has a terrific pitcher in senior Garrett Horn, a 6-2, 185-pound lefty who has committed to Liberty. Davie passed a key test, nicking Horn in the second, third and fourth innings and finishing with eight hits. Horn went all six, walked four and fanned eight.
“He was up to 92 (mph) against us and he sat 88-89 all night,” Rudisill said. “But we put up good at-bats against him.”
The story early on was shortstop Blake Little’s defense. He turned an unassisted double play in the first when Glenn had two on. He turned another unassisted DP in the second with runners at second and third.
Davie struck first. Parker Aderhold walked with one out in the second and advanced on a passed ball. He scored on a Wesley Mason hit.
Glenn scored on a passed ball in the third, tying the game at 1-1. Davie answered immediately. In Davie’s half of the third, Jack Reynolds walked and Davin Whitaker singled. Reynolds scored on that hit as the ball was misplayed in the outfield.
Davie stretched its 2-1 lead in the fourth. With one out, Justin Collins got a hit. Mason singled on the next pitch. Then came the big blow, a two-run single by Arey. Davie had breathing room at 4-1.
Whitaker’s amazing run began at South Iredell on April 30, and he has not stopped hitting since. His 2-for-3 night lifted his team-high average to .478 (11 for 23).
“He was frustrated with his (0-for-4 showing at Glenn),” Rudisill said. “He came back to work on Wednesday. We cranked up the (pitching) machine and he felt like he was prepared. Even in his first at-bat when he struck out, it was an eight- or nine-pitch at-bat.”
Mason continued his torrid streak with two hits and two stolen bases in three at-bats. The junior has hit safely in six of seven games, resulting in a .454 average (10-22).
“He kind of reminds you of Hunter Bowles from (2019, when he came out of nowhere to hit .344),” Rudisill said. “We really didn’t know what we were going to get, and Wesley’s been a huge part of what we’ve done so far.”
Getting one hit were Little (1-3, walk), Reynolds (1-2, walk, two steals), Collins (1-3) and Arey (1-3, two RBIs).
When Rodgers finished the fourth, Rudisill turned it over to Hazlip, who gave the War Eagles what they hoped to see – and then some. In three shutout innings, he walked none, struck out four and tossed 27 of 33 pitches for strikes. He lowered his ERA to 2.83. In 12.1 innings, he has three walks and 15 Ks. Not bad for a first-year varsity arm.
“He ran his fastball in and out and commanded his changeup,” Rudisill said. “That’s the only two pitches he threw. Because of where his arm angle is, his fastball freezes a lot of guys.”
Notes: Glenn outhit Davie 9-8, but Davie played error-free defense. Glenn had two miscues. … Glenn (1-8 overall) has an eight-game losing streak. … Davie rose to 5-3 overall. … Little has been a constant all year. With at least one hit in seven of eight games, he’s at .392 (11-28). … On a down note, Davie has lost its catcher and RBI leader, junior Daniel Lawson, to injury. “He’s been hurt all year; he’s been playing through it,” Rudisill said. “He has a torn ligament in his thumb. He decided to have surgery (last week).” … Cunningham has moved from first base to catcher. “The good thing is we’ve got a college signee (Cunningham will play at Ferrum) to back up Daniel,” he said. “It will work out. Like I told them from day one, it’s got to be next man up.”