Davie baseball recovers, sweeps Tabor

Published 9:12 am Thursday, April 7, 2022

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By Brian Pitts

Enterprise Record

Davie’s varsity baseball team, which only has two seniors in the everyday lineup and one of them got hurt last week, went through some understandable struggles when it faced East Forsyth, Alexander Central and Reagan over a string of five games.

The War Eagles dropped all five. Another loss would have marked the longest losing streak since who knows when. (Davie did not lose six in a row between 1996-2021.)

With the season in jeopardy of falling apart, the War Eagles rolled up their sleeves and took two from Mt. Tabor.

When Davie’s 2-0 lead evaporated in the fifth inning at Tabor on March 29, the War Eagles were at a crossroads. They came through in the late innings to stop the bleeding.

“In the back of your mind, it’s like, ‘Oh gosh, here we go again,’” coach Joey Anderson said. “We’ve had so many of those games where we’ve done everything to win and then all of a sudden we lose because we’re trying not to lose. Tonight we turned the corner and won the game.”

Davie 5, Tabor 3

The game turned when Tabor leadoff man Jake Koonin came up in the fifth with two on. He blasted a three-run homer to turn Davie’s 2-0 lead into a 3-2 deficit.

“Their leadoff man is a player,” Anderson said.

Davie scratched back in the sixth even though the first batter of the inning, Parker Simmons, was erased trying to stretch a single into a double. The next guy struck out.

“We took the blame for getting Parker thrown out at second,” Anderson said. “We’re aggressive. We’re going to steal bases and hit-and-run. We’re going to try to make the opponent make a mistake.”

With two outs, Coy James and Ty Miller helped save the day. James roped a double off the wall. Moments later, he scored the tying run on Miller’s single up the middle.

The top of the seventh was a jubilant moment for a team that hadn’t won in 16 days. Daniel Lawson doubled with one out. With two outs, Wesley Mason smacked a go-ahead triple and wound up with a “little league home run” when the throw got past the third baseman. Davie had the 5-3 lead.

“We hung in even though Bayden (Hazlip) made that one (bad) pitch to their leadoff man,” Anderson said. “We kept competing and battling.”

In the seventh, Koonin came up representing the tying run with one out. Hazlip induced a grounder to James, who started a 6-4-3 double play.

Hazlip added to his senior resume with a complete-game six-hitter. He walked two and struck out 12, the most Ks by a Davie arm in 49 games. He’s been like a man on a mission all season, going 3-2 with a 2.30 ERA, four walks and 37 Ks in 30.1 innings. It was his third complete game in five starts.

“Bayden was being Bayden,” Anderson said. “He kept making big pitch after big pitch.” With a laugh, he said: “We really don’t know what Bayden throws. There’s variations of what he throws. He takes some off of some and puts more on others. He holds the ball different on changeups. Whatever it is, it’s working. He’s been a bulldog. He’s going to come after you. He doesn’t shy away from anybody.”

James went 2 for 4 with two doubles to push his average to .350 (14-40). Eight of his 14 hits have gone for extra bases (six doubles, two homers). Oh, and he’s a freshman.

“I knew he could swing the bat,” Anderson said. “What he’s doing in his second and third at-bats is what’s impressing me. When they change their approach, he is also changing his approach. Both of his hits were backside and they were well-hit balls. When he uses the whole field, he’s a very hard person to get out.”

But the No. 1 average belongs to Lawson, who went 2-4 to lift his mark to .400 (10-25). Unfortunately, he injured himself on his seventh-inning double.

“Daniel is just keeping it simple,” Anderson said. “Once he figured out, hey, I don’t have to hit for power is when he started hitting for power.”

Notes: Hazlip, who only allowed one hit after Koonin’s homer, recorded the most Ks since Carson Whisenhunt fanned 17 in an 8-1 win over West Rowan in March of 2019. … The Spartans (3-7, 1-6 Central Piedmont Conference) suffered their fourth straight loss. … This was the first Davie-Tabor meeting since Davie’s 4-2 win in the 2017 CPC Tournament.

Davie 12, Tabor 2

Davie ultimately won in a rout, but things did not start smoothly against visiting Tabor on April 1.

In the top of the first, a base hit took a weird hop and skipped over an outfielder’s head. That resulted in a triple, and a single, walk and error followed as Tabor broke out to a 2-0 lead.

Davie more than recovered, winning in mercy-rule fashion.

“That (top of the first) got me out of the dugout pretty fast,” Anderson said. “I went out for a mound visit to try to calm (Jaydon Holder) down and get him in a rhythm. It was unfortunate. I told Jaydon: ‘Pitch your game and we’re going to play defense.’ After that, it was over.”

Davie got one of the runs back in the bottom of the first. James, who walked and advanced on Miller’s bunt, scored on Davin Whitaker’s sac fly.

Davie seized control in the second. A four-run uprising started with Parker Aderhold’s walk, Mason’s bunt hit and JT Bumgarner’s RBI bunt. Then came a single from Drew Krouse, another run-scoring bunt (Simmons), a James double and a RBI single from Miller.

For good measure, Davie tacked on three in the fourth to make it 9-2. James and Jackson Sink both had triples in the inning.

Holder was just as impressive as Hazlip was three days earlier. He pitched a four-hitter with two walks and 11 Ks. He got Tabor 1-2-3 in the second. He faced three batters in the third and four in the fourth. He got Tabor 1-2-3 in the fifth and struck out the side in the sixth.

His second complete game left him at 2-1 with a 3.08 ERA.

“He was working both sides of the zone,” Anderson said. “He had his changeup and curveball working real well. He mixed them up.”

James (2-3, double, triple, three runs) and Mason (2-3) had two hits as Davie outhit the visitors 9-4. Miller (1-1, three RBIs), Sink (1-2, two walks, three steals), Aderhold (1-2, two steals) and Krause (1-2, walk) had one hit each and Simmons drew a pair of walks.

Notes: Davie entered the week 5-7 overall and 4-4 in the CPC. … Davie made one error to Tabor’s four. … James is 10 for 23 during a six-game hitting streak. … Davie had to play without Lawson, who has played a big role as a middle-of-the-order bat and the catcher. “We will find out Wednesday on his timetable,” Anderson said. “My gut says (he won’t be back soon), but we’re hoping for the best.”