Baseball team bounces back from tough loss

Published 1:37 pm Tuesday, March 14, 2023

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By Brian Pitts

Enterprise Record

Davie’s varsity baseball team outscored Reynolds 12-3 across two games but came away with a 1-1 split. Here’s where we shake our heads and say, “That’s baseball.”

In the first meeting at home, the War Eagles smothered Reynolds 11-1 in six innings. Things changed when Reynolds’ ace got  the ball for the rematch in Winston-Salem. Conner Frail carried the Demons to a 2-1 upset by navigating seven innings in just 75 pitches.

“That was one of the best pitching performances I’ve seen,” coach Joey Anderson said.

Davie 11, Reynolds 1

The War Eagles had no trouble taking round one against the visiting Demons on March 7. Everything clicked in a run-rule beating in the Central Piedmont Conference opener.

Pitching Jaydon Holder was completely locked in, throwing a four-hitter with two walks and 14 strikeouts. He fired 62 strikes in 84 offerings, faced five over the minimum and rung up the most Ks in 65 games. The senior’s ERA through two starts is an eye-catching 0.70.

“Jaydon’s performance was exceptional,” Anderson said. “He attacked the bottom half of their order. There was only one kid that put a couple good swings on him.”

Davin Whitaker (2-4, double) and Jackson Sink (2-3, three RBIs) were the top sticks as Davie pushed at least one run across in all six at-bats.

One of the most compelling aspects of the game was seeing whether Coy James could extend an astounding streak. When he singled on an 0-2 pitch in the first inning, he was 8 for 8 on the season. The consecutive hits streak was snapped in the third, when he was hit by a pitch. He reached base in nine straight at-bats until he flew out to right in the fourth.

The War Eagles, who defeated Reynolds for the seventh straight time, got one hit from James (1-3), Brady Marshall (1-2, two walks, double, three steals), Drew Krause (1-3) and Ty Miller (1-2).

Holder’s 14 Ks were the most since Carson Whisenhunt racked up 17 in an 8-1 win over West Rowan in March of 2019.

Reynolds 2, Davie 1

Two days later in Winston, Braeden Rodgers and Connor Berg did solid work on the mound, but Reynolds barely squeaked out a win because its horse (Frail) was sensational.

The tall righthander pitched seven walk-free innings, only faced 26 batters and averaged 10.7 pitches per inning.

“He looked like Greg Maddux out there,” Anderson said. “Any kid that throws 75 pitches in seven innings has done a phenomenal job. I don’t know many teams that would have beaten him that night. He was 86-88 and his curveball was working. He was putting his fastball on the corners, and he was putting it up, down and around.”

Davie got on the board first. Krause opened the third with a single, courtesy-runner Craig McBride stole second and James rifled a run-scoring, one-out triple. James, though, was left standing at third, a missed opportunity that would come back to haunt the War Eagles.

Reynolds took advantage of a two-out error in the third and tied the game at 1. (Three Davie errors, compared to zero by Reynolds, was one reason this one ended in disappointment.)

The Demons found a way to scratch in the sixth. The first batter walked, advanced to second on a groundout, took third on a wild pitch and scored on a two-out single.

With his team down one, Marshall sparked hope by leading off the seventh with a two-strike hit. Sink did his job and put down a bunt that pushed Marshall into scoring position. But Frail got the next two batters to secure the Demons’ first win over Davie since March of 2018. They had lost 12 of 13 in the series.

Marshall and Krause both went 2 for 3. The other three hits came from James (1-3), Ty Goodson (1-3) and Sink (1-2).

Davie couldn’t complain about its pitching. Rodgers threw two-hit ball for four innings and offset four walks with eight Ks. His ERA through two starts (0.87) is similar to Holder’s. Berg worked the last two frames.

At this point, James, who hit safely in 21 of 25 games as a freshman, had gotten a hit in 25 of 29 career games.

Davie 5, AC 3

Two days following the stinging loss, Davie picked up a gritty home win over Alexander Central in nonconference action.

“I scheduled them two times because that allows us to see where we’re at,” Anderson said. “(AC coach) Pete Hardee does a real good job and his teams are always pretty good. That was a good win for us.”

Davie only managed three hits, but all three were clutch. With two outs in the second, Sink walked, advanced on a wild pitch and scored on Krause’s single. Cooper Bliss walked and speedster McBride scored on another wild pitch.

The Cougars (4-2) took the upper hand with a three-run third, but Davie flipped the contest back into its favor in the fourth. Bliss’ bunt moved Sink and Krause into scoring position. With two outs, James came through with a two-run double down the third-base line. When Aderhold reached on one of AC’s two errors – this time it was Davie that was flawless in the field – Davie had an insurance run and the 5-3 lead.

“We had three key hits,” Anderson said. “We’ve outhit the other team and still lost, so it was a payback win for us. We put balls in play and made them make plays.

“Drew simplified it and did what we had talked about. He shortened his swing up and hit line drives.

“Coy finally got a pitch that hung on the inside. They kind of had his number early and had him fishing, but he was big in that situation.”

From there, Dave relied on relievers Berg and Bliss. Berg notched his first varsity win by shutting AC out for 2.1 innings; he lowered his ERA through three relief stints to a shiny 1.00. Bliss supplied the punctuation mark by striking out two in the seventh – not bad for a guy who had worked 1/3 of an inning as a varsity pitcher – as he gracefully worked around a leadoff double.

Cole Whitaker made his first varsity start and went 3.2 innings.

“Connor did real well, especially after (taking the loss against Reynolds),” Anderson said. “We wanted the meat of their order to see something different and Cooper did a real good job.”

Notes: Krause went 2 for 3 as Davie avenged a 4-3 loss in Taylorsville on Feb. 28. … Davie entered the week 3-2 overall. … The top three averages belong to James (.625, 10-16), Marshall (.363, 4-11) and Krause (.357, 5-14).