Prep Baseball: Williams helps Eagles sweep Dragons
Braxton Shetley pitched in Monday’s win over West Davidson, meaning Avery Bowles would toe the rubber Wednesday against the same Green Dragons. He never took the hill, but the deep pitching staff of the Golden Eagles had a backup plan.
His name was Nick Williams.
Making a rare start at Feezor Field in a Central Carolina Conference game that was crucial for both sides, Williams tossed six innings and struck out five to get his first win of the season in a 5-4 outcome. Shetley pitched a scoreless seventh inning to pick up the save for the Eagles, who rallied back twice to remain perfect in the league at 8-0. West dipped to 5-3.
Williams was told he would get the ball the day before due to tightness in the shoulder of Bowles. Though tossing few innings this season, he was sharp and hitting his spots.
“I am just so proud of Nick Williams,” said East skipper Dan Tricarico. “He found out Tuesday that he would be pitching. It is tough to just step on the mound and be effective without pitching in a month. To throw the kind of game he did tonight was phenomenal.”
East had to make a comeback for a second time to even put Williams in a position for the win. The Green Dragons broke a 3-3 tie in the fifth scoring the go-ahead run on a Justin Smith sacrifice fly.
Still 4-3 in the top of the seventh, East was down to its final three outs. The veteran unit somehow found a way to fight back.
Justin Freeman pitched just as well as Williams and certainly deserved to win. But his walk to Williams to open the final frame began the rally. Zach Queen came on in relief and offered one pitch to Trevor Jones who laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance the runner into scoring position. After an intentional walk to Tyler Stroup, right-hander Chandler Simerson took the mound. Shetley immediately rattled him, lining a single to right that set up a play at the plate. Williams rounded third and headed for home as the throw came in from right. The throw beat Williams to the plate, but he ran to the outside of the baseline and dove as the ball slipped out of catcher Graham Shoaf’s glove. Ryan McIntire put control in East’s hands, grounding out to score Stroup for the 5-4 advantage.
Shetley had trouble closing it out with runners advancing to second and third with two outs, but got Boo Norman to hit a grounder to third that Jones scooped up and fired over to first for the final out.
It was a completely different game compared to Monday’s tilt where East was in control winning 6-0. Tricarico knew the outcome would be much tighter playing in West’s house against a great coach in Jerry Walser.
“It does not matter what the records are or what kind of teams you have,” Tricarico said. “Jerry, the way he coaches his kids they fight to the last out. As an opposing coach coming here you are always concerned. They just don’t quit. If they get a hit there at the end they win the game.”
Walser was upbeat afterward, praising his team for the turnaround they had made since the last meeting.
“It certainly was not what happened Monday and we are proud about that,” he said. “We want to get better with each game and there is no question we were better tonight than on Monday. Our kids played their hearts out and that is what we are looking for.”
West jumped on East 3-0 in the first inning, using three Eagle errors to their advantage.
That lead would hold up through four innings, with the sophomore Freeman keeping EDHS off-balance. Many times the hitters chased balls well out of the zone.
In the fifth, the West defense had a rough go of it after retiring the first two batters. Williams singled to right and Jones hit a ball hard down the line at third base. Queen dove for the ball and it tipped off his glove, traveling just far enough away to allow Williams to dive into third base. Stroup followed with a chopper in front of the plate that Freeman came in to field. His throw sailed high of Simerson at first, traveling well up the right field line. Williams easily scored and Jones came in behind him, running through Tricarico’s stop sign at third base. Stroup slid into third and made it 3-3 on Shetley’s single through the left side.
Notes: Stroup, Jones and Shetley had two hits apiece ... Matt Berrier went 3-for-4 for the Dragons while Queen added a pair of hits ... East is 16-2 overall and West is 11-8 ... East will play two games against Salisbury next week. A win in either game would give the Golden Eagles the conference championship.