Prep Baseball: Freeman pitches West by East
East Davidson will have to wait at least one more game to be crowned champions of the Central Carolina Conference regular season. Of course, if they duplicate Monday's performance at West Davidson, there will be no title.
Mental and physical errors cost them in a big way, helping the Green Dragons run away with a 7-1 win at Feezor Field. Now tied for the top spot in league play at 8-1, the teams will meet today, weather permitting, in a winner-take-all showdown at East. The Golden Eagles will send Nick Williams to the hill and the Dragons will counter with Chandler Simmerson.
“We are only halfway through this journey and we know we have to be better next time than we were tonight,” said WDHS coach Jerry Walser after the big win. “We finally made a play or two in the field and gave our pitcher enough runs where he could feel confident going out there to pitch.”
Ah yes, the pitcher. What a performance it was from Justin “Lefty” Freeman. The left-handed hurler tossed a gem, striking out 12 batters and allowing no walks. He wore the paint off the outside corner of the plate and mixed the curve well with his fastball.
“Justin threw an outstanding game so you have to give him credit for that,” said East head man Dan Tricarico. “He was in total command.”
Ryan McIntire was not too shabby either for the Eagles, taking a perfect game into the fourth inning. His shot at perfection and a no-hitter were broken up on a single by Freeman, but no further damage was done.
The fifth inning would hold plenty of misery for East.
McIntire walked Zack Queen who then stole second on a bang-bang play that brought Tricarico out of the dugout to question the umpire. When play resumed, Graham Shoaf was attempting to sacrifice the runner over, but instead popped up a bunt. It turned out to be a good thing. The ball found the ground before an Eagle could get to it, allowing all to be safe on the play as Queen took third.
McIntire struck out T.J. Eller, then got Jacob Gobble to ground a ball to second base that had double-play written all over it. But it was booted by Kelvin Pena, allowing Queen to score and the inning to continue on. East had trouble fielding yet another bunt when Chance Fortenberry dropped one down in front of McIntire. The pitcher picked it up and was ready to fire over to first, but nobody was home and the bases were loaded.
Trouble continued to follow the Eagles, as Pena threw low and wide of the bag at first base on another grounder hit his way. Two runs scored on the play, then Tyler Hunt lifted a sacrifice fly to center that just scored Fortenberry for a 4-0 West advantage.
“We just cannot have defensive breakdowns,” Tricarico said. “To me at this point in the season there is no excuse for that. We just worked on that stuff in practice on Thursday, and then we did not carry it out during the game. That is very disappointing as a coach when you work on the stuff and expect it to be executed in the game, then when you do not execute it is tough. They deserved to win the game and outplayed us.”
Freeman (5-2) struck out the side in the sixth and got some more help in the bottom of the frame. Queen had an RBI double to right and Shoaf nailed a single to left that tacked on two additional runs.
East at least had a positive to build on for next game, getting a solid double down the line in right by McIntire that drove home Nathan Campbell.
Shoaf finished the night with two hits for the 13-7 Dragons. East is 14-5.
Sports Editor Zach Kepley can be reached at 888-3631, or email@example.com.