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Hartle, Reagan ends Davie baseball season

By Brian Pitts

Enterprise Record

Davie’s varsity baseball team made noise in the top of the first inning against Josh Hartle and top-seeded Reagan in the Central Piedmont Tournament semifinals at East Forsyth on June 7.

Jack Reynolds stole second and scored on Davin Whitaker’s hit to right.

But there was funereal silence from Davie’s bats the rest of the game, and again Hartle reminded us why he might get picked in the first round of next month’s Major League Baseball Draft.

Hartle twirled a one-hitter for four innings and Reagan buried the fourth-seeded War Eagles 11-1 in four and a half innings to bring the curtain down on Davie’s season.

The War Eagles were 5-3 overall and 5-1 in the CPC on May 20. Then came East Forsyth and Reagan (11-2). Then their season went spiraling. Davie was swept by East, the league’s No. 2 team. Then it faced Reagan, among the top teams in the state, three times in seven days. The result was a five-game losing streak, the longest since 2010. For the second game in a row, third-year coach Bradley Rudisill endured his worst loss at Davie (5-8 overall).

Rudisill pointed to the ferocious competition in the CPC, a list that includes Glenn junior pitcher Garrett Horn (Liberty signee), Reagan junior Carter Boyd (Arkansas commitment), East Forsyth’s Xavier Isaac (Florida commitment) and East sophomore pitcher Braxton Stewart (Louisville commitment).

“This is why every win you can get in the CPC means so much,” Rudisill said. “You will not face better competition day to day than what you see in the CPC.”

After Reynolds walked and stole second, Whitaker gave Davie the quick 1-0 lead. Davie pitcher Zach Rodgers had a promising start as well, striking out two of four batters in the bottom of the first.

The joy of that was fleeting as Reagan took control in the second, getting a triple, reaching on an error and getting a two-run single from leadoff man Tommy Hawke.

It was 3-1 then, but things got way worse in the third. The Raiders scored eight runs on four hits, two walks and a hit batsman. Meanwhile, Davie’s offense went 0 for 15 after Whitaker’s first-inning knock.

Davie’s third pitcher, Vance Visser, provided scoreless work for 1.1 innings, but Davie’s three pitchers needed 90 pitches to cover four innings. By contrast, Hartle and reliever Levi Strahm only threw 69 pitches in five innings.

Hartle’s one-hitter included seven strikeouts. His senior numbers are impeccable: 7-0 record, 0.65 ERA. This is the continuation of an incredible four-year varsity career. He ran his career record to 20-5. By walking 25 and fanning 240 in 149 innings, his career ERA is 1.25.

A 15-year scout talked about Hartle on the condition of anonymity. “I think it starts with the (6-5) frame,” the scout told the Winston-Salem Journal. “He’s got good size and arm strength, and we saw velocity today in the low 90s. We will take into consideration how much he wants to go to school (at Wake Forest) or if he wants to get drafted.”

Blake Little said: “I’ve never met him but know him through social media and I’ve seen some of his videos,” Davie’s leadoff man told the Journal. “All the hype around him, it really showed up and all these scouts are here. His slider was pretty unbelievable, so I was looking for a fastball to just try and get something in play. It was cool to see all the guns raising up from the scouts when he was pitching.”

Reagan catcher Colby Welborn: “It’s just cool to see and you hear about all these scouts that go watch guys play in high school,” he told the Journal. “But when you are the catcher of one of those guys it’s pretty surreal. After a couple of games I got used to it, but it’s been awesome to be a part of all this. He just has so much command on his pitches, it makes my job as a catcher so much easier.”

Hawke, who has signed with Wake Forest, said: “We know when he pitches we have a shot to win no matter who we are playing. I’ve been playing with him since he was 12 or 13 and it’s been like that all the time.”

Oh, and one more thing on Hartle. Batting third in the order, he went 3 for 3 with two RBIs as Reagan collected nine hits.

Notes: Davie had one error, while Reagan played flawless defense. … In the CPC Tournament final, Reagan overwhelmed West Forsyth 12-2 in five innings. The Titans reached the final by upsetting East 3-0. … Davie’s offense only managed seven runs in the last five games and finished with a .253 average. It averaged 4.1 runs and did not hit a home run for the second straight year (18 total games). … Davie’s top three hitters were sophomore Whitaker (.351), senior Little (.348) and junior Wesley Mason (.342). The other .300 hitter, junior Daniel Lawson (6 for 20, .300), missed the last six games with an injury. … Mason led Davie in runs (nine) and stolen bases (nine). Little led in hits (15) and doubles (four). Reed Cunningham led in triples (two). Lawson led in RBIs (eight) even though his last game was May 18. Reynolds led in walks/HBPs (seven).