Blistering: James 7 for 7 in first two baseball games
Published 12:48 pm Tuesday, March 7, 2023
By Brian Pitts
Coy James went nuclear right out of the gate for the Davie varsity baseball team. In the hottest start that you’ll see, the sophomore went 7 for 7 in the first two games of the season as Davie split with Alexander Central and Carson.
James’ fourth hit of the game at Central on Feb. 28 tied the game in the top of the seventh. The Cougars, though, pushed across a run in the bottom half to walk off a 4-3 win.
Davie cut into Central’s 3-0 lead in the fourth. Davin Whitaker doubled and came home on Parker Aderhold’s hit. Davie could have had more, but it left the bases loaded.
Davie inched a little closer in the fifth. James singled and moved up on Ty Goodson’s sac bunt. After D. Whitaker walked, James and Whitaker pulled off a double steal. After Jackson Sink walked, James scored on a wild pitch to pull Davie within 3-2.
That set the stage for James in the top of the seventh. His leadoff homer tied the game at 3 and made him 4 for 4 with two runs and two steals. He’s coming off arguably the finest freshman season of all time, when he hit .409 with three homers. Now he has four dingers with tons of time left in his Davie career. In case you’re wondering, the Davie career record for long balls is 16 by Matt Marion from 1988-90.
“I’m sure everybody in the stands was hoping Coy would hit a home run, and he came through in a big situation,” coach Joey Anderson said. “That’s just his DNA.”
The Cougars started the last of the seventh with a single. After a stolen base and a strikeout, Anderson ordered an intentional walk to set up the force. Reliever Cole Whitaker battled Central’s cleanup man fiercely. The batter fouled off three straight pitches before getting a walk-off single.
“Cole struck out probably their best hitter,” Anderson said of the No. 2 batter. “We decided to (intentionally walk the No. 3 batter) because the four-hole looked like a double-play target. He battled and battled. Cole made good pitches. We tried to go outside on him and he put a good swing on it.”
Starter Jaydon Holder (four innings, three runs, one earned, one walk) and C. Whitaker (2.1 innings, one run, one walk, four strikeouts) pitched well in defeat.
While James had four of Davie’s five hits, Aderhold went 1 for 4 and Sink walked twice.
It was hardly a bad loss. Central is a traditional power and Davie was right there.
“They made some great defensive plays and the ball didn’t bounce our way,” Anderson said.
Davie 6, Carson 1
Facing another program that is accustomed to winning, Davie picked up a marquee win at home on March 1.
“I’m proud of the guys so far,” Anderson said. “I’d much rather be 2-0, of course, but I set up our schedule to where we’re going to be playing good competition and that’s only going to help us in conference play.”
James’ play continued to meet, if not surpass, his preseason hype. He went 3 for 3 with two runs, a double, a walk and two more steals.
“He’s still taking his big hacks from time to time, but he changes his approach and stays short and quick,” Anderson said. “He’s not getting weak hits. He’s hitting everything powerfully.”
As if his explosion at the plate wasn’t enough, James flashed the leather at short.
“He made two spectacular plays, one that not many people are going to make,” Anderson said.
Davie’s offense gave pitchers Braeden Rodgers and Connor Berg more than enough support in the bottom of the first. D. Whitaker’s single plated James and Goodson. After Aderhold executed a bunt and Brady Marshall walked, Davie went up 3-0 on Sink’s ground out.
Rodgers was effectively wild as the starter. He tossed a one-hitter for four innings and racked up six Ks. He had a blemish on his stat line – six walks – but only allowed one run. Berg followed with 2.2 scoreless innings, and Cooper Bliss struck out the only batter he faced as the trio combined on a two-hitter.
“Braeden didn’t get ahead of a lot of batters,” Anderson said. “They watched a lot of pitches, so they made you come at ‘em. He got out of two bases-loaded jams.”
Davie’s ERA through two games is 1.57, earning a thumbs up from new pitching coach Joey Cress.
“Pitching looks pretty easy when everything’s working,” Cress said of Rodgers’ outing. “It takes a lot of guts to compete and find ways to get outs when you don’t have your best stuff. We’ve seen examples of both in these first two games. I’m excited about what we have seen out of every arm we have run out there thus far.”
Davie’s seven hits came from four of the top five batters in the order. Goodson and D. Whitaker went 2-3 and 1-2 in the second and third holes, respectively. Goodson scored three runs and D. Whitaker drew two walks. Marshall, the prize freshman, went 1-2 with a walk in the five hole.
“I saw a lot better at-bats up and down the lineup,” Anderson said.