Growing pains persistent for Davie baseball

Published 8:45 am Thursday, March 31, 2022

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By Brian Pitts

Enterprise Record

The Davie varsity baseball team’s 17-15 loss to Watauga on March 2 was a big downer because Davie held an 11-2 lead before collapsing.

A little over three weeks later, the War Eagles suffered deja vu. They took a 13-8 lead into the seventh inning against Reagan. They wilted and lost 15-13.

How weird is it to see a team score double-figure runs and lose? Well, it’s something you almost never see. From 1996-2021, the War Eagles were 114-3 when scoring 10-plus runs. After losing 15-14 to Myers Park in 1997, Davie reeled off 60 straight wins when its offense cracked double figures. After falling 14-10 to Orange in 2009, Davie won the next 53 games when it put up at least 10 runs. The third loss since 1996 was 12-10 in eight innings to East Forsyth in 2019. So after enduring three such losses in 26 years, Davie experienced two absolutely brutal setbacks in a span of 24 days.

Watauga and the home game against Reagan aren’t the only tough pills the War Eagles have had to swallow. They’re 2-5 in games decided by one or two runs. They’ve dropped five straight and the last three have been two-run margins.

“We have to get better because we keep giving away wins,” coach Joey Anderson said after Davie slumped to 3-7 overall and 2-4 in the Central Piedmont Conference. “We keep allowing teams to breathe. With us being young, we have to be able to do the little things and not make errors.

“We put them in circumstances throughout practice, and they’re doing the right things in practice. When it comes time to do it in the game, we’re not doing it.”

Reagan 2, Davie 0

It was no shock that Bayden Hazlip pitched a heck of a game when Davie traveled to Pfafftown on March 22. Unfortunately for the senior lefty, he didn’t get any run support for his second outing in a row.

He gave up five hits and two walks, navigating six innings in 73 pitches. He has a 2.10 ERA and he tossed his second complete game in four starts. But his record is 2-2.

“Man, he’s pitched great so far,” Anderson said. “I don’t know what else to say. He’s been phenomenal. He’s gone right at people. He’s made pitches when he’s had to make pitches. He has hit his spots. He doesn’t shy away from people. I think he got away from that a little bit last year, and that’s one thing he’s doing a lot better this year. He’s solidifying himself as one of the best pitchers in the conference.”

Reagan scored its first run in the second. After a pair of singles, Hazlip issued a two-out walk. (It was – get this – his first walk of the year across 18 innings.) He walked the next man as well to force in the run.

In the fifth, Reagan sandwiched two hits around a sac bunt to push the margin to 2-0.

Davie’s best chance to get on the board was the sixth, when Coy James singled on a fullcount and advanced on a Ty Miller bunt. But junior Levi Strahm retired the next two to preserve his complete-game shutout.

Strahm finished with a four-hitter and zero walks.

“It’s like we’re doing one or the other,” Anderson said. “We’re either playing defense real well and we’re not stringing hits together. Or we’re hitting the ball well and not making plays in the field. Our defense was solid at Reagan.”

Notes: Davie’s other three hits came from Miller, Davin Whitaker and Daniel Lawson. … The Raiders’ fifth straight win lifted them to 6-3 overall and 4-1 in the CPC. … Reagan beat Davie for the fourth straight time.

Reagan 15, Davie 13

This marathon game at Davie on March 25 left a gloomy feeling around the War Eagles, who jumped to a 6-0 lead before holding the 13-8 advantage.

“When we have a chance to put away somebody, we have to do it,” Anderson said.

The War Eagles stunned Reagan in the bottom of the first. James and Parker Aderhold had singles. Mixed in were five walks and an error in James’ second at-bat of the inning. The result was the 6-0 lead.

Reagan stormed back with a five-run third. Three errors preceded Noah Quarless’ three-run homer.

“Other teams in the CPC aren’t going to lay down and die,” Anderson said. “As coaches, we have to somehow teach these boys how to get a killer instinct and finish what they started.”

Davie pushed across two in the fourth, when Davin Whitaker singled, Jackson Sink reached on an error, Aderhold walked and Wesley Mason singled.

It was Reagan’s turn to rally in the sixth. Two walks led to a two-run double by Carter Boyd, who ambushed the first pitch and tied the game at 8.

“There was only one call that I second-guessed myself on,” Anderson said. “That was (Boyd’s double) when we were up 8-6. I had just got it out of my mouth to Ross (Hoffner) that we need to put him on right here. He ended up swinging first pitch and hitting it down the third-base line.”

It looked as if Davie was going to survive the slugfest when it put up five runs in the sixth. Drew Krouse, Parker Simmons and James had consecutive hits before Miller’s squeeze bunt plated Davie’s final run.

“We did everything we needed to in the sixth to put them away,” Anderson said.

But it was not to be. In the top of the seventh, Reagan erupted for seven runs, the final three on Boyd’s homer, capping a five-RBI night for the cleanup man.

In Davie’s final at-bat, Lawson and Mason had walks and both advanced into scoring position on a passed ball. The tying run was at second with two out, but a strikeout ended the game.

“We’re playing not to lose instead of playing to win,” he said. “We have to somehow gain that confidence. If we can pull out some of these and get on a run, they’re going to realize how good a team they really are. Our record definitely doesn’t show how good we could be. They have to believe in themselves. Hopefully before long they figure that out.”

Davie got multiple hits from James (2-5, double) and Aderhold (2-4, walk), while Mason reached four times.

Notes: Reagan had 12 hits to Davie’s nine. Davie had four errors and Reagan three. … Both teams used four pitchers. Davie’s starter was Jaydon Holder, who was pulled after 4.1 innings. “Jaydon had a blister on his foot, so he had to come out,” Anderson said. … Davie’s team batting average is only .253. The top two hitters are Lawson (.380, 8-21) and James (.333, 12-36). … Anderson said there’s time to right the ship. “We still have half a season left and we’re going to do everything we possibly can to turn it around,” he said. … Anderson wants to honor Davie’s rich baseball history, so he’s going to hold Alumni Night on Friday when Mt. Tabor visits at 6 p.m. “We would love to have alumni baseball players here,” he said.