East staves off Davie upset bid
Published 10:14 am Thursday, May 12, 2022
By Brian Pitts
In the two regular-season meetings, East Forsyth beat Davie’s baseball team handily (5-0 and 13-5).
The matchup in the Central Piedmont Conference Tournament semifinals was a different story. The War Eagles took 4-1 and 6-3 leads. They fell behind by five but had the tying run at third in the seventh inning.
They almost did something special against the No. 1 seed. They fell just short in an 11-10 slugfest. The game was held at West Forsyth on May 3.
“It was an unbelievable effort,” coach Joey Anderson said of his fourth-seeded boys. “This team is so determined to pull something out and prove people wrong.”
Even though the War Eagles stood in the box against Braxton Stewart, a 6-4 junior lefthander who has committed to Louisville, they came out smoking, parlaying five hits and five walks into six runs against the high-profile arm.
In the top of the first, Coy James singled, took second on a wild pitch and scored on Davin Whitaker’s hit.
Stewart helped himself with a game-tying single in the second, but Davie pushed across three runs in the third. With James, Whitaker and Parker Aderhold aboard, Ty Goodson singled. Then came a two-run knock from Drew Krause to give Davie the 4-1 lead.
East fought back in the third behind solo homers from Xavier Isaac and Steele Lee.
Davie regained the momentum in the fourth. James’ double scored Wesley Mason, and James came home on a wild pitch as Davie took the 6-3 advantage.
“We kept plugging,” Anderson said. “Is (Stewart) the best pitcher in the conference? I would say he’s pretty durn close. It’s tight between him and about two other guys. But on his day we were determined to jump on him early and make him throw strikes. We wanted to stay away from his slider because he likes to spike his slider and get you to chase it. The first game we chased it. This game we made him hit his spots.”
In the bottom of the fourth, it was East’s turn to make noise. Ethan Norby’s bases-loaded double cleared the bases and forced a 6-6 tie.
The War Eagles did not trail until the sixth, when East put them in a deep hole. The No. 9 batter, Hudson Morgan, ambushed the first pitch for East’s third solo homer of the night. Four singles, a walk and an error followed as East grabbed an 11-6 lead.
But the War Eagles absolutely refused to quit. In the seventh, Whitaker was hit by a pitch, prompting East coach Drew Dull to make his second pitching change and bring in Lee, a 6-6 junior and a Division-I prospect. East errored balls off the bat of Aderhold and Parker Simmons and Davie took advantage. Krause doubled. The next guy was retired for the second out, but Mason jumped on the first pitch for a triple that plated two runs and pulled Davie within one.
“They moved in for some reason because I guess they didn’t want Wesley to drop one in,” Anderson said. “He ends up hitting it over the kid’s head.”
On Mason’s triple, East overshot the cutoff man. Had Anderson seen that coming, he might have kept Mason running around third.
“If I would have seen it early enough, I could have sent Wesley home,” he said. “I was thinking I’ve got Coy up, but I wasn’t thinking they were going (to intentionally walk him). That’s respect for what Coy’s done all year.”
The intentional walk to Davie’s leadoff man put runners at the corners for Ty Miller, who flew out to center.
“We had situations where we could have put them away,” Anderson said.
Still, it was a valiant effort against an 18-7 opponent. James (2 for 2, three runs, three walks) reached base every time, and the ascendant freshman catcher, Krause, starred again by going 2-4 with three RBIs.
“Drew has some things he has to improve on, but he plays very loose and he’s a very good catcher,” he said. “He’s going to benefit us for three more years. His upside is way higher than most freshmen. I’m very happy with how all three of my freshmen (including James and Goodson) have played. Goodson has been put in some big situations in the five hole and he’s come through. Those three have exceeded my expectations.”
Notes: Davie (12-11) is 3-7 in games decided by one or two runs. … Isaac, a 6-5, 240-pound leadoff man for East who has committed to Florida, went 2-3 with three runs. … Davie has been in several games that have produced all sorts of weird turns and twists. In fact, this was the fifth game in which both teams cracked double-figure runs. The others: 17-15 loss to Watauga, 15-13 loss to Reagan, 24-10 win over West Forsyth and 22-10 loss to High Point Christian. “It’s been like a rollercoaster ride,” Anderson said. … In the other semifinal, No. 3 West Forsyth edged No. 2 Reagan 4-3 in nine innings. In the final, West beat East 8-4.