Post 174 creates fireworks on July 4th

Published 9:59 am Tuesday, July 9, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

By Brian Pitts

Enterprise Record

After getting outscored 31-8 by High Point in the first three meetings, including 10-0 in game one of the best-of-five playoff series, the Mocksville Legion baseball team gave its home fans plenty to cheer on July Fourth and hammered High Point, 12-2, in five innings.

What? How?

You can credit Riley Campbell, who held the heavily-favored opponent to three hits, and Evan Hyde and Cooper Bliss, who blasted home runs in a nine-run second inning as  Mocksville came away with an easy win that evened the series at 1-1.

“Honestly, going into today’s game, it was very nerve-wracking because I was not expecting this,” coach Tristan Wyatt said. “Because we were missing six or seven guys, and two of them were unexpected misses. We only had 10 today. I threw a lineup together. I knew they could produce, but I didn’t know they were going to produce like this.”

In the bottom of the first, Campbell helped himself with a single, moved around to third and scored on a wild pitch to tie the game at 1.

But after scoring just 10 runs across five games and one run over 10 innings, the Mocksville bats really awoke in the second.  Jay Brookshire walked, Bliss singled, and on the next pitch, the No. 8 batter in the order, Evan Hyde, left the yard with a rocket to left. The three-run homer was a stunning thing for a hard-luck guy who came in hitting .204 with zero homers in 44 at-bats.

“Evan has been due for this,” Wyatt said. “I mean the guy has hit gaps and their guys have run them down. But this was an absolute no-doubter. He’s had some tough luck. He will occasionally strike out on offspeed pitches, but he has hit it hard right at people. But this one was a no-doubter.”

The next two batters were retired, but Mocksville was far from done. Shawn Sealey, Mason Moxley, Caden Irvin and Bryson Morrison banged consecutive singles and then Brookshire walked for the second time in the inning. The next batter, with the bases full, was No. 7 man Bliss. He homered to left, a grand slam that capped the nine-run barrage that included 12 batters, seven hits and two walks.

Just like that, Mocksville was rolling 10-1.

“I’ve been telling Cooper that his back shoulder drops occasionally and he pops up,” Wyatt said. “But he got a hold of one. It was huge. The best feeling was watching him at the end of the game, one of his family members handed him the home-run ball. His smile was just as big then as it was when he hit it.”

Mocksville put High Point to bed in the fifth. Hunter Baldwin and Sealey had singles before Moxley walked. Irvin’s single plated two and produced the 10-run mercy rule.

Sealey (3-3), Irvin (2-3, three RBIs) and Bliss (2-2, four RBIs)  led the 13-hit attack, but everyone did something offensively. Contributing one hit each were Campbell (1-4), Moxley (1-3, walk), Morrison (1-3), Brookshire (1-1, two runs, two walks), Hyde (1-3, three RBIs) and Baldwin (1-3).

Sealey’s average jumped from .297 to .350. Bliss, who had not homered in 29 at-bats, went from .310 to .354. The dingers from Hyde and Bliss were unexpected for multiple reasons: Mocksville had gone deep just five times in 23 games, it had not enjoyed a two-homer game since Morrison blasted two on opening night, and during one stretch Mocksville went 11 games without a long ball.

“It’s really good to see these boys have a hit rally like that, especially against a team like this and after a 10-0 loss,” Wyatt said. “It goes to show that anybody can make it to the state tournament. This gives me a lot of faith in my boys.”

The offense provided plenty of cushion for Campbell, who provided excellent mound work while living on the edge. The lefty walked the first two batters in the second and got out of it unscathed. He walked seven but more than made up for that by throwing a three-hitter.

“Riley did excellent on the mound,” Wyatt said. “I was scratching my head at the beginning, but he did exactly what we needed. He zoned in and handled their hitters very, very well. One thing that makes me nervous with him is he does get behind in the count a lot. But he’s a guy that knows how to bounce back. I mean, if he gets down 3-0, he believes he will strike you out. That’s his mentality.”

And then: “He struggled with his fastball tonight – it was tailing a lot and that was one reason he was getting behind in counts – but his curveball had the High Point batters on their front foot. He was mixing his curveball and changeup and those were freezing them and causing them to pop up.”

While High Point slipped to 18-5, Mocksville improved to 11-13 and snapped its longest losing streak of the season (four). Wyatt loved everything about this game, including the most runs in 13 games and his team’s error-free defense.

“(Campbell) felt confident because we made a lot of good plays in the field,” he said. “We had a line-drive shot to Moxley at third. He snagged it out of the air. We had a couple plays in the outfield where (left fielder Baldwin and center fielder Brookshire) ran balls down. It was just an all-around good game.”