Junior Legion wins another close, exciting game

Published 12:04 pm Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

By Brian Pitts

Enterprise Record

First the Mocksville Junior Legion baseball team edged South Rowan 4-3. That was followed by a 7-6 squeaker over Carson. And then came a 5-3 win at Kannapolis Post 146 on June 18.

Beating those three clubs in a span of six days was no small feat. Mixed in was a 9-2 loss to Mt. Ulla, but all in all Mocksville has positive vibes as it enters the backstretch of the regular season.

“It was a team win and it was a quality win,” coach Chad Cox said after the latest close win.

Post 174 led from start to finish. In the top of the first, Carson Queen doubled and went to third on an error. With Kason Stewart on first and Queen on third, Stewart got himself in a rundown on purpose and Queen dashed home for a quick lead.

“That’s a play we work on,” Cox said. “Kason broke very early to draw attention. That’s the second or third time that’s worked for us this year. I’ll trade that out for a run, especially early in the game, almost every time.”

Mocksville pushed the margin to 3-0 in the second, scoring on Chris Barringer’s sac fly and a Queen double. The lead grew to 4-0 in the third, when Stewart got something going with a single. He came home on Corbin Angus’ hit.

But Kannapolis refused to go quietly. It got one back in the fourth and closed within 4-3 in the fifth.

Kannapolis had a chance to tie the game in the sixth, but a huge defensive play by center fielder Craig McBride preserved Mocksville’s lead. The first batter of the inning singled and then stole second. On the steal, the throw got away and rolled into the outfield. The runner took off for third, but an alert McBride cut him down with a throw to Queen. Kannapolis could not recover from that.

“As the runner slid into second, the throw got away from us,” Cox said. “Craig was doing his job and backing up the play. The runner tried to advance to third and Craig has too good of an arm to run on. It was an easy out at third. That was at a crucial moment in the game.”

Mocksville got an insurance run in the seventh. Stewart doubled, advanced to third when Angus reached on an error and scored on a single by Parker Davis.

Two-hit efforts by Queen (2 for 3, walk, two doubles) and Stewart (2-3, two runs, walk) were nothing new. Davis had a big day by going 2-2 with two walks.

Mocksville (6-6 overall, 5-5 division) got solid work from three pitchers. Joshua Whitaker and Joe Barnes both went 3.1 innings. Barringer got the save by throwing two pitches to the game’s final batter.

“I was real happy with the pitching,” Cox said. “(Whitaker and Barnes both) went over three innings in less than 45 pitches. That’s fantastic. Joshua is not overpowering, but he was getting soft grounders and weak fly balls. If Joe is on, he pitches really well. Joe was on the money this game.”

Notes: McBride (1-4) and Angus (1-4) had one hit each. … The hits were almost even (8-7 in Mocksville’s favor), but Mocksville was decidedly better in the field (no errors to Kannapolis’ three). … The one negative: “We had some blunders running the bases,” Cox said. “It didn’t change the outcome. But for future endeavors, hopefully we fix that.”