Knights ground Rockets
Fri. March 29, 2013 at 11:23 p.m. | By Mike Duprez
North Davidson’s Wesley Little bunts against A.C. Reynolds on Friday in Welcome. (Photo by Mike Duprez/The Dispatch)
WELCOME | North Davidson was already trailing two batters into the game when Black Knight left fielder Wesley Little, leaped as high as he could, reached his glove over the top of the fence and robbed A.C. Reynolds’ Dustin Owenby of a home run.
After that it was, literally, all North Davidson.
The Knights erupted for seven runs in the bottom of the first inning and tacked on six more in the second to rout the visitors from Asheville 13-1 in a game shortened to five innings due to the 10-run mercy rule on the opening night of the North Davidson Easter Invitational.
And this wasn’t your typical rout of a bad team. The Rockets are 9-2 and own a win over independent school powerhouse Charlotte Christian.
“Yeah, wow,” said North coach Mike Meadows. “That’s uncharacteristic of them. But they hadn’t played in a week. We got down some nice bunts. We can run. We’ve got some kids who can run and that puts some pressure on your defense. They walked a couple of us and that jump-starts our offense.”
North improved to 10-3.
While the Rockets’ rough game may be uncharacteristic, A.C. Reynolds coach Bryan Craig has seen it before. The Rockets lost 13-3 to North Buncombe on March 12.
“That’s the way we’ve been this year,” Craig said. “The two games we’ve lost, we’ve had it kind of bad. We’re either really good or we’re really bad.”
C.J. Rice had a three-run double, Chris Cheek had a two-run double and Chase Mitchell had a two-run single to spark North’s attack. Bailey Garfield allowed an unearned run in 3 2/3 innings to lead the pitching.
But to Meadows, it all goes back to Little’s glove.
The Knights were trailing 1-0 in the top of the first when Owenby, who came into the game hitting .394, crushed a Garfield pitch to left center. But Little made a sensational catch.
“I just went back and jumped,” Little said. “That’s all I could do.”
That might have seemed like an understatement to anyone else.
“That’s the play of the game,” Meadows said. “I know it’s just the first inning. But if he gets the home run, it’s 2-0 and I may need to go get Bailey. It turned the whole game around. It gave us momentum.”
It sure did.
Bryce Hensley, the first of three Rocket pitchers, walked Eric Morrow to start the bottom of the first. Drew Beaver was hit by a pitch, the runners advanced on a wild pitch and scored on Mitchell’s single. The Knights ended up sending 12 batters to the plate in the first. E.P. Reese, who was 2-for-3, brought home in a run with a bunt single on a safety squeeze play. Cheek doubled in two more and Morrow, in his second at-bat of the inning, singled in a run.
Craig’s thoughts also drifted back to Little’s glove work.
“Yeah, he pulled it back in,” Craig said. “We didn’t make plays on some balls. And they hit it. You’ve got to tip your hat to them. That’s the way it goes sometimes.”
The Knights tacked on three runs apiece off Reynolds ace Parker Utter and Derek Williams in the second. The big blow was Rice’s bases-clearing double. Beaver singled in a run and Little knocked in one with a grounder.
Meanwhile,Garfield settled down after the first. The right-hander allowed three hits with two strikeouts and three walks.
“Bailey did a good job,” Meadows said. “He hadn’t pitched in a while because we’ve been in conference and (Andrew) Mayton and the rest of them have been throwing pretty well.”
Max Royal struck out the only batter he faced to end the fourth and Jack O’Neal pitched a scoreless fifth.
North will face Maryland independent school power DeMatha at 5:30 p.m. Saturday.
Mike Duprez can be reached at 249-3981, ext. 218 or firstname.lastname@example.org.