NCHSAA State Playoffs: Cuthbertson ends East title hopes
With senior Braxton Shetley taking the mound in the second round of the NCHSAA 2-A playoffs, those in attendance at East Davidson figured runs would be at a premium Tuesday night. He even drew praise from the opposing coach.
Unfortunately for the Golden Eagles, Cuthbertson was not intimidated. The Cavaliers became the first team to string together a bevy of runs against Shetley and only the second team to defeat the Eagles with him on the mound, as East fell 11-4 to end its postseason run.
"We did not play well tonight. They've got a very good team," said coach Dan Tricarico. "If we play the way we're capable of playing, I believe we can beat them. But you've got to prove it on the night you play somebody, and in this system — one and out — that's the way it is."
After a solid first inning got things started off the right way for the Eagles, a five-run second broke things open. Will Fussy, Drake Zupcic and Bailey Connell each had RBI singles to give Cuthbertson a 5-1 lead and all the run support starter Nick Contafio would need.
Avery Bowles homered in the fourth for East, but could not bring his team back from a deficit which proved insurmountable. The Cavaliers followed the Bowles three-run bomb by answering with four runs of their own in the next frame. Bowles, also a senior, replaced Shetley on the mound in the fifth and finished a contest that marked the end of a remarkable career.
"We saw Shetley's numbers. When you've given up one earned run in 47 innings, the odds aren't in your favor," Cavalier coach Travis Little said. "So to get out there and break that threshold, it's almost kind of a mental barrier. That felt good."
Little said the feat of advancing against such talented opposition is made even more remarkable in light of the fact Cuthbertson spent a majority of the season without two of its best hitters, Brandon Fowler and Austin Pierce. Cuthbertson (18-6) will next face Randleman in a third round with a school that won the 2-A championship in 2011 and lost the title game last season.
East finishes the season at 21-4, falling shy of a rematch with Randleman, which the Eagles defeated during the regular season.
"It's tough for seven awesome seniors to go out this way," Tricarico said. "We've talked about it all season. If you're going to get beat, you want to play your best and get beat by a team that's better than you, and we didn't play our best tonight."
Staff Writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 888-3575, or firstname.lastname@example.org.