Sealey, Campbell seal Sr. Legion win

Published 11:22 am Monday, July 1, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

By Brian Pitts

Enterprise Record

Pitcher Shawn Sealey came into the home game against Concord on June 23 having won three straight starts. The Mocksville Senior Legion baseball team needed the righthander to make it four for Post 174 to remain alone in first place in the Southern Division.

Sealey did not disappoint. He kept on doing his thing, and Riley Campbell’s monster swing in the bottom of the seventh inning – a walk-off homer – gave the hosts a 1-0 victory and a 5-1 division record with three games left in the chase for two playoff berths.

This pitchers’ duel was nothing short of spectacular. Sealey was opposed by Cole Cashion, a crafty lefty who held Mocksville to three hits.

“It was absolutely thrilling to watch,” coach Tristan Wyatt said. “We struggled a little bit, but late-bloomers is what I call them. They step up in the late innings.”

Before the dramatic finish, Mocksville only threatened once. In the fifth, Cooper Bliss and Aundray Russell drew two of Cashion’s four walks, and when the speedy Russell stole second, Mocksville had runners at second and third with one out. Jay Brookshire hit it on the nose, but the left fielder made a great play for the second out and then fired to second to double up Russell and end the inning.

“Jay hit a line shot to left field,” Wyatt said. “It looked like it might get down. Aundray didn’t think the second baseman was behind him and they doubled him off.”

Other than that missed opportunity, nothing fired against Cashion, who had Mocksville’s offense on lockdown even though he did not strike out a single batter. He covered six innings in 73 pitches.

“We had no strikeouts, but our guys were popping up,” Wyatt said. “We did not make the defense work. (Cashion’s) a pretty good lefty. He has different arm angles, so he would throw directly from his ear, then he’d drop down and he’d throw sidearm some, too. So he was coming from all kinds of angles. He had a good slider and a good changeup.”

Through six innings, Concord had only managed four base runners, with only one getting into scoring position. The visitors had shown absolutely zero signs of beating Sealey, but its small ball put a big scare into Mocksville in the top of the seventh.

After a leadoff single, Concord got a bunt hit. Another bunt resulted in a bases-loaded, no-out jam. It was poor bunt defense both times, said Wyatt, who was seething as he visited the mound.

“That’s when I had one of my tantrums,” Wyatt said. “I threw my hat down, went out there and yelled at the infield to come in. I told them: ‘We’re going to get out of this. Settle down and do your job. Shawn is going to get us out of this, and you guys are going to back him up.’ Lo and behold, he got out of the inning.”

Indeed, Sealey pulled a rabbit out of his hat. He got a strikeout on three pitches. He induced a popup to first baseman Brookshire. He got strikeout No. 11 on three pitches. In a span of nine pitches, he put out the fire and kept the score 0-0.

Sealey has been a true workhorse, going 6.1, 6, 6.2 and 7 innings in consecutive starts. He’s 4-1 with a 3.53 ERA, and no one else on the staff has more than one win. He recorded the first shutout of the season.

In this incredible pitchers’ duel, Sealey walked one, threw 67 of 95 pitches for strikes and averaged 13.5 pitches per inning. Cashion countered with 12.1 per.

“I was hoping that Shawn would only go two or three innings and I’d move to another pitcher,” Wyatt said. “But I had to keep him in the whole game. I was hoping to save him for Rowan (two days later), if we needed him. But we needed to keep him in because we only had three hits. He was sick, he wasn’t feeling good at all. He came straight to the locker room (before the game) and took a nap. But he did his job.”

But Mocksville had to find a way to scratch to stay ahead of Rowan County in the standings, and Campbell took care of that all by himself on the third pitch of the home half of the seventh. Cashion’s 2-0 offering rocketed off the lefthanded batter’s bat and sailed over the right-field wall.

Campbell’s 2-for-2-with-a-walk night raised his batting average to a cool .384. He timed his first dinger perfectly and provided a huge thrill as Mocksville went deep for the first time in five games and for just the fifth time in 19 games.

The only other hit came from Russell, who went 1-1 with a walk, a hit by pitch and two steals.

“(Campbell’s) been a good DH for me whenever Shawn is pitching,” Wyatt said. “I’m pretty sure he threw Riley a 2-0 changeup because that was his best pitch of the night. I knew the moment I heard the sound. That was the best crack off the bat; it sounded beautiful. And what a crucial time to do it. The bench was ecstatic, jumping all over (Campbell). They knew how crucial the game was for first place.”

Notes: Wyatt praised Bryson Morrison’s play at shortstop. “Bryson was absolutely amazing at shortstop,” he said. “Rich Park’s infield has its grooves and has its bounces, but Bryson made some plays on bad hops. I need to give him a big shout-out for sure.” … Wyatt won the protest from the 4-1 loss to Concord on June 21. He protested that pitcher Gavin Norris was illegal because he joined the roster too late. By receiving delightful news from the state commissioner, Mocksville retained sole possession of first.

Rowan 4, Mocksville 2

The vibes were great when Mocksville headed to Newman Park on June 25. It was 5-1 in the division, it had won both meetings with Rowan and it had a chance to take a two-game lead with two games to go.

But after falling at Rowan, Mocksville still had work to do as it approached the Friday/Saturday games to close the regular season. Mocksville beat Concord with only three hits, but it couldn’t expect to win again with only three hits.

You can blame Rowan reliever Nate Hayworth, who held Mocksville to one run on two hits over five innings.

“We hadn’t seen him,” Wyatt said. “His arm angle looked different from what we’ve seen in the past. He did his job. Our guys were making adjustments, but the balls we were hitting were just right at people. But we also hit a lot of pop flies – easy outs.”

Mocksville got on the board first. In the second, Mason Moxley and Campbell drew walks, and Moxley crossed home on a two-out single by Morrison. Rowan charged to a 3-1 lead, but Morrison came through again in the fourth, when his single plated Sealey and pulled the visitors within 3-2.

But it could have been a big inning. Sealey (walk) and Evan Hyde (HBP) reached with no outs, but Rowan turned a 4-3 double play and ultimately minimized the damage.

Needing two runs in the seventh to stay alive, Russell was hit by a pitch and Brookshire walked with one out. Mocksville had the tying run at first, but a flyout to center and a popup closed the book.

The night ended with Mocksville at 5-2 and Rowan (4-2) tied for first in the loss column. Mocksville won the first two meetings – 7-6 in eight innings and 6-4 – but the season series has been about as tight as it gets; the running score is 15-14 in Mocksville’s favor.

Morrison (2-3) had two of his team’s three hits and also had both RBIs, raising his average from .250 to .276 and lifting his team-high RBI total to nine. Caden Irvin went 1-4. Russell had a walk, a HBP and two more steals.

“(Morrison) showed up just in time,” Wyatt said. “He came straight from work and he didn’t even have an opportunity to take BP. After the first game when he had two home runs, people have treated him as a big hitter and they’ve been starting him off with offspeed. Batting ninth was an uncomfortable position for him, but he really showed up.”

Notes: After Cooper Bliss tossed 4.2 innings, Brookshire recorded four outs in a span of 14 pitches. … Rowan had eight hits. … Wyatt said the middle infielders – Morrison at short and Sealey at second – showed up big. “They made good plays – really good plays,” he said. “Shawn made a leaping grab that might have saved some runs. Bryson played a heck of a short.” … Mocksville fell to 10-10 overall.