7 in the 7th: Juniors complete insane comback

Published 10:27 am Tuesday, June 25, 2024

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By Brian Pitts

Davie Enterprise Record

The Mocksville Junior Legion baseball team pulled off the impossible against West Rowan at Rich Park, erasing a 9-3 deficit in the bottom of the seventh and winning 10-9 on Jesse Willard’s walk-off hit.

“That’s more than we’ve scored in an inning by far,” coach Blake Little said.

Kann 5, Mock 2

Yes, Kannapolis defeated Mocksville for the third time in as many meetings on June 19 at Rich Park, but this one felt different.

Kannapolis overwhelmed Mocksville 11-1 and 8-0 in the earlier matchups. Thanks mainly to pitcher Joshua Whitaker, this time Mocksville forced Kannapolis to finally break a sweat. Post 174 actually outhit the visitors 7-6.

“We had seven hits and a ton of hard-hit balls that didn’t fall,” coach Blake Little said. “We executed with runners on base well and took an extra base when we needed to. We made a couple little mistakes that ended up being the difference in the game, but overall impressive game from us.”

Mocksville scratched out a tying run in the bottom of the first. Willard doubled, Dashel DesNoyers singled and Luke Foster walked. Then Willard scored on the front end of a double steal to tie the game at 1.

It fought back again in the second. Westin Vestal smacked a double, advanced on a bunt by Junior Vazquez and scored on a wild pitch to make it 2-2.

Kannapolis, though, settled the issue by scoring twice in the fifth. Still, it was a good effort against a strong opponent. Whitaker did extremely well on the mound, going all seven innings and holding Kannapolis to two earned runs. But then again, Whitaker didn’t do anything Little hadn’t seen him do in other starts.

“Josh pitched a great game – only two earned runs against one of the better teams in the area,” Little said. “He’s had one hiccup start this season, but overall he’s been our ace. He’s got a 2.50 ERA over his four starts and three relief appearances.”

DesNoyers (2-4) and Vestal (2-3, double) had two hits each to lead the offense. Willard (1-3, double), Vazquez (1-2) and Diego Rivadeneyra (1-2, walk) contributed one apiece.

Mock 10, WR 9

One night later at Rich Park, mind-boggling stuff happened in the seventh inning. It looked bleak after West Rowan scored five in the top of the seventh, but Mocksville somehow found the oomph to override that in its final at-bat.

It was a huge pick-me-up moment for a team that had dropped two straight and four of five.

West, which trailed 3-0 after the first, broke a 3-3 tie in the fifth and carried a 4-3 lead into the seventh. It scored five times on four hits, two hit batsmen and a walk to take the 9-3 lead, and it appeared Mocksville had completely folded.

Not so. In the bottom of the seventh, it went from 9-3 to 9-9 before West could get the first out. How insane is that?

The first eight batters of the inning: Dylan Garwood walk, Willard double, DesNoyers walk, Rivadeneyra infield hit, Foster hit by pitch, Joakim Rose RBI single, Vestal RBI single, Vazquez game-tying infield hit.

Rivadeneyra’s infield hit was a “27-hopper to the first baseman,” Little said. “He hit it in a perfect spot and ended up beating it out.”

The infield hits for Vestal and Vazquez were both fielded by the shortstop. Like they say, sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.

“The shortstop kept (Vestal’s grounder) in the infield, but he didn’t have a play,” Little said. “Then he threw it to third base and it go away.

“We were hitting it at them. They were either not making a play or it was in a spot where they couldn’t really make a play on it. I will admit they gave us a bunch of those base runners, but we put the ball in play and we earned our half of it.”

With the score 9-9, West coach Patrick Hampton intentionally walked Joe Barnes to load the bases. A strikeout kept the game knotted, but there was still only one out when Willard stepped up. He mashed a hit to right-center to walk it off.

The 11-batter rally was truly insane – six hits, three walks, one hit batsman.

“It was a screamer (by Willard),” Little said. “Off the bat, I knew there was no chance it was getting caught.

“It’s crazy. I mean, 9-3 going in and then a seven-run inning. Dylan Garwood started off the bottom of the seventh with a walk and then he actually made the first out.”

Mocksville finished with 13 hits to West’s 10, and Vestal (3-4, double) led the charge. Providing two hits were Willard (2-4, double, walk), Foster (2-3), Rose (2-4) and Vazquez (2-4). Rivadeneyra (1-2) and Garwood (1-3, walk) had one apiece. Barnes had two walks.

Rose worked 6.1 innings before giving way to Willard, who wound up the winner after recording the final two outs in the top of the seventh.

Notes: Mocksville entered the week with a 6-11 record. … Mocksville may have lost Brayden Carter for the rest of the season. He suffered a broken nose on an ugly collision at third base. “Brayden went to tag a guy sliding into third, and his hand came up and hit him in the nose,” Little said. “His cleat actually caught him, too, and busted his lip open.”