CCC Baseball: Shetley helps East Davidson win tournament title
Braxton Shetley wouldn’t have minded playing a few more innings Thursday the way his night was going.
The UNC-Pembroke signee pitched a complete game, striking out 11 and giving up just five hits in a 5-0 East Davidson win over West Davidson in the finals of the Central Carolina Conference tournament at Feezor Field. That was only half of his production. At the plate the senior went 3-for-4, driving in three runs. Nick Williams also went 3-for-4 with an RBI.
“This feels great,” said Shetley, who moves his pitching record to 6-1. “It was a team effort and a goal we wanted to accomplish.”
East skipper Dan Tricarico was overjoyed with the play of his squad. They had a rough outing in Wednesday’s semifinal against Central Davidson, but returned one night later looking like the championship-caliber team they have been all season long.
“Braxton was great,” said Tricarico. “He is our conference player of the year. I am really proud of him and it was a total team effort. Last night was an East Davidson team that was flat and did not really play the way they are capable. We went home and ran some poles to get everybody’s attention. They came out tonight and I could not have asked for anything more out of them. They were focused and I could not be more proud of our approach tonight.”
West had let a game slip away from them against the Golden Eagles a couple weeks ago at home, but were behind from the get-go with no way of fighting back.
The top-seeded Eagles got a leadoff single by Nick Williams in the bottom of the first inning to get the wheels turning on a frame that provided all the runs they would need. Tyler Stroup’s single with one gone advanced Williams, bringing Shetley to the plate for a chance to help his own cause.
A .400 hitter on the year, Shetley drove a single to the outfield to score both runs. Kelvin Pena came on to run for him and scored on a bloop single off the bat of Nathan Campbell. Giving a pitcher like Shetley a three-run lead to play with makes it that much tougher to mount a comeback.
“I was a lot more relaxed with those runs,” Shetley said. “I felt like I could just throw strikes and let my defense work behind me.”
Shetley found himself in a little trouble during the third and fourth innings, but took it upon himself to wiggle out of the jams. With runners at first and third in the third and two outs, he struck out a dangerous hitter in Zach Queen. In the fourth, the situation was tougher to escape. He had struck out the first batter, but two others had reached and were standing on second and third with one out. Shetley reached a little deeper in the tank, striking out Matt Allen looking and fanning Chandler Simmerson to strike out the side.
East added a run in the fifth to extend the margin to four. Williams singled and was sacrificed over by Trevor Jones. Stroup was issued a walk, and Shetley followed up with a single to left that scored Williams.
The Golden Eagles scored the last run on a single to right by Williams in the sixth that plated Josh Craven.
“They are one of the best teams in the state and when they play to the best of their ability they are really hard to beat,” said WDHS coach Jerry Walser. “You cannot name the mistakes West Davidson made. They just pitched well, made the routine plays and got some timely hits.”
With another goal checked off the list, the real journey now begins for an East club that was eliminated in the fourth round by East Rutherford last season. They will host T.W. Andrews next Friday in the opening round of the 2-A state playoffs.
“We have reached all of our goals and now we are going after that ultimate one,” said Tricarico. “I feel good about where we are. We are not limping into the playoffs. We are playing the way we need to be playing.”
West could have hosted a first round game with a defeat over the Eagles to gain the No. 2 seed from the league, but will be on the road to start the postseason. East went on the road for every round last season, and Walser is hopeful his young group can get just as hot touring the state.
“Name a team for me that is going to be as good or better than East Davidson,” he said. “We have got to feel pretty good about the experiences we had playing against them and our conference.”
Notes: Matt Berrier had two hits for the Green Dragons ... Queen started the game on the hill for West and went five innings to take the loss ... East is 20-3 for the year.