Post 174 stumbles in playoffs

Published 11:21 am Monday, July 1, 2024

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By Brian Pitts

Enterprise Record

The Mocksville Senior Legion baseball team’s 6-3 stumble against visiting Concord on June 28 could have been a big loss, but thanks to two Kannapolis losses, the Mocksville-Concord game did not mean anything.

Regardless of what happened there, Mocksville was guaranteed a top-two finish – and a playoff berth – because Concord beat Kannapolis 2-1 and Rowan County beat Kannapolis 5-3.

At the end of the June 28 action, Rowan was 5-2 in the Southern Division, Mocksville was 5-3, Kannapolis 4-5 and Concord was last at 2-6. Mocksville and Rowan met at Rich Park Saturday with first place on the line. The Mocksville wheels fell off late and Rowan belted Mocksville 16-4.

The regular season ended with Rowan carrying the No. 1 seed from the Southern Division. As the No. 2 seed, Mocksville will face the top seed from the Northern Division, High Point, in a best-of-five, first-round series. Mocksville coach Tristan Wyatt said Mocksville-Rowan was “such a big game” because he did not want to draw high-powered High Point in the first round.

Back to the Concord game. Concord lefty Cole Cashion pitched marvelously when Mocksville squeaked out a 1-0 win on June 23, but Mocksville jumped on Cashion for three runs in the third inning of this one. After Cooper Bliss stroked a one-out single, Jacob Fleming, Aundray Russell and Shawn Sealey walked in succession. A Bryson Morrison sac fly brought in Fleming and Russell scored on a wild pitch as Mocksville took a 3-1 lead.

Aaron Hutchens was rolling on the mound for Mocksville, but he ran into trouble in the fifth. An error helped Concord tie the game at 3. And then Concord put up two more in the sixth to make it 5-3.

“We had a 3-1 lead and they took advantage of our (three) errors,” Wyatt said. “Aaron did really well on the mound, but he couldn’t hold the lead.”

And Mocksville’s offense couldn’t respond against righthanded reliever Caleb Darbutt, who only faced 12 batters in 3.1 scoreless innings.

“Cole was not in the same groove (as the 1-0 game), but their second pitcher was pretty solid,” Wyatt said. “(Darbutt) threw hard and he hit spots. He had different arm angles and he was on point.”

Bliss (2-3) had two of Mocksville’s six hits. Sealey, Caden Irvin, Evan Hyde and Riley Campbell (double) all went 1 for 3. Russell had two walks.

Mocksville finished second in the division even though it closed the regular season with a three-game losing streak. The division just could not have been any more balanced.

“Concord definitely made it very interesting at the end,” Wyatt said. “They took care of business with Kannapolis, and they took care of business with us tonight. And they’ve held their ground with Rowan in a couple games. So anything can happen in this division. The bottom two were in it the entire way until today. It amazes me. In the other division, it’s a battle for second place. High Point is going through everybody. But this division is amazing.”

A story on the Mocksville loss to Rowan will be published next week.