Senior Legion gets critical win

Published 10:28 am Tuesday, June 25, 2024

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By Brian Pitts

Enterprise Record

The Mocksville Senior Legion baseball team survived a classic game at Kannapolis on June 18. Since the teams split the first two meetings and the third-game tiebreaker could be critical toward determining two postseason berths from the Southern Division, the 5-3 comeback win felt like a playoff game.

“The adrenaline was going the entire game, but we pulled through,” coach Tristan Wyatt said.

Pitcher Shawn Sealey battled back from a bumpy first two innings. He plunked a batter on his third pitch of the night. He beaned another on his fifth offering. A bloop single plated a run. His 17th pitch hit a batter … and there were two on with still no outs. He got the next three batters to keep Kannapolis’ first-inning lead at 2-0,  but he gave up two hits in the second to fall behind 3-0.

Although he would hit five batters, Sealey performed at peak capacity from the third though the end of his 6.2-inning effort. In other words, he just kept on keeping on, this marking his third straight start of at least six innings. He gave up five hits, only walked two and struck out eight.

In the third, Sealey struck out back-to-back batters with two runners aboard to keep Mocksville within striking distance at 3-0. That proved to be Kannapolis’ last threat until the seventh.

“His goal today was to do in tight on them, and he was a little extra today,” Wyatt said. “It was just like the Randolph game, when he zoned in and won the game 6-2. Today we gave up three (early) runs and he zoned in and came back.”

Mocksville’s bats finally came alive in the fifth. Riley Campbell bunted for a hit, Evan Hyde doubled on a two-strike pitch and Jacob Fleming lifted a sac fly. A pair of two-out walks loaded the bases, and a new pitcher went to the mound. The reliever plunked Myles Crocker to force in a run that drew Mocksville within 3-2.

“I told them we’ve got to work on small ball,” Wyatt said. “Our leadoff batters got some bunts down. Riley had a beautiful bunt down the third-base line. Jay (Brookshire) had a beautiful bunt as well (in the seventh) in a crucial situation.”

Kannapolis took the first meeting 8-3, but Mocksville used a seventh-inning rally to steal the second meeting. It took the rubber match in glorious fashion, overcoming a three-run deficit for the second time.

The seventh-inning noise started with Fleming being hit by a pitch. On the next pitch, Aundray Russell singled. Then Brookshire dropped a perfect bunt down the third-base line to load the bases with no outs.

“I was thinking to myself: ‘Russell is due. He has to be due for something,’” Wyatt said. “I brushed away the bunt because I figured if we can get Russell on, Jay can get the bunt down and we’ll be fine. I rolled the dice and it turned out in my favor. That would have been a good time to lay down a sacrifice because (Russell) has the wheels to run it out, but so does Jay. Either way, it could have worked.”

Caden Irvin came through with a game-tying hit. Then Crocker got the job done with a sac fly that plated Russell and put Mocksville ahead 4-3. Mason Moxley’s grounder to third resulted in a productive out as the visitors tacked on an insurance run.

“(Kannapolis coach) Joe Hubbard tried to argue the slide at second, to no avail,” Wyatt said of the 5-4 fielder’s choice.

With two outs and one on in the bottom of the seventh, Sealey issued a walk on a fullcount pitch. That was his 110th pitch and ended his night. Wyatt summoned Crocker, who walked his first batter on five pitches.

This was something to behold – 5-3 game, bases loaded, a lot at stake.

Crocker delivered, getting swing-and-miss strikes on the final two pitches to send Mocksville to 3-1 in the division.

“I about dropped to the ground (when Crocker walked the bases loaded),” Wyatt said. “I told him he needed to zone in because we had two outs and a two-run lead. I know you have an adrenaline rush when you don’t want to give up any runs. But just let them hit it and get a groundball, and boy he had the guts. He gave everything he had for the last few strikes. On the last strike, he gave a loud grunt – like all he had.”

Brookshire was big, going 2 for 2 with two walks. Russell (1-4), Irvin (1-3, walk), Campbell (1-3) and Hyde (1-3, double) had one hit each. Crocker reached twice on HBPs.

The hits were 6-5 in Mocksville’s favor.

“You can say the tensions were extremely high because this was a very crucial game for both teams,” Wyatt said. “I told the guys we can finish first if we win tonight. They pulled through. We snuck out of there with a good win.”

Davidson 8, Mock 3

In a non-league game at Davidson County on June 20, Mocksville dug too deep a hole and lost to the Hawgs for the second time.

The game was all but settled in the second inning, when Davidson racked up all eight of its runs. The good news: The loss wasn’t harmful, Cooper Whitley went 2 for 3 with two RBIs and Hunter Baldwin (3.1 IP, 1 R) and Fleming (one scoreless inning) pitched effectively in relief.

Post 174 got one hit from Brookshire (1-4), Moxley (1-2), Sean Doty (1-1), Sealey (1-3), Fleming (1-3) and Will Wands (1-3). Aaron Hutchens reached twice (walk, HBP).

Although both teams had eight hits, Mocksville’s record slipped to 8-9 overall.