Vikes Tie West Stanly With Late Rally
In the late going of Thursday’s baseball game against West Stanley at Viking Field in Cameron, the Union Pines varsity squad appeared well on its way to dropping a sixth straight summer league loss.
Down 4-1 with one out in the bottom of the sixth, the Vike bats woke up just in time as the home team put together a two-run rally featuring three hits and a sacrifice fly to trim the margin to a run.
That offensive mojo soon permeated over into their next at-bat as Union Pines opened the bottom of the seventh frame with three straight hits, eventually managing to tie the Central Carolina Scholastic Summer League affair at 4-4 just prior to the home plate umpire calling the game due to darkness.
The visiting Colts grabbed control of the contest early, plating a run in the top of the first but Union Pines battled back to tie the score in the bottom of the third inning when Noble Davis doubled home Tyler Barber, who had reached base via a walk.
Although Thursday was the third to last game on Union Pines 2012 CCSSL season, it marked Davis’ summer debut in Viking blue. A rising senior, Davis has spent the summer playing for a showcase team based out of Charlotte on the weekends with the full blessing of Vike head coach Chad Hill.
Even still, Hill admitted it was great to have the services of his most experienced varsity-level player Thursday as Union Pines was shorthanded for the night, with five guys missing from its regular roster.
“Out of the five guys we were missing, four of them were regular starters,” Hill said. “So needless to say it was great having a veteran leader in Noble (Davis), who is going to be counted on heavily as a senior, to come out and perform well.
“He threw strikes, his pitches looked good and maybe it would have been a different outcome for him if we had some of our other players here. Still he buckled down and kept us in the game not only with his pitching but on offense.
“It was nice to see Noble swing the bat well, and he was using a wooden bat. Seeing that kind of performance from him definitely got us excited about the prospects of him for us next year (in the 2012-2013 spring school season.) “
Davis finished the night 3-for-4 with the lumber. He used his wooden bat to sting four well-struck balls to the outfield, including the double in the third frame that short hopped the wall and tied the score. On the mound, Hill had Davis on a strict pitch count of 75, which he reached in five and one-third innings of work.
Davis allowed four unearned runs while yielding five hits and three hit by pitches. He also fanned four batters before being spelled by rising sophomore Kyle Robinson with one away in the sixth frame. However, the Vikings’ defense played less than stellar baseball behind Davis, committing a total of seven errors while he was on the mound.
Two of those errors, coupled with a pair of bean balls by Davis, saw West Stanly plate two runs in the top of the fourth to regain the lead at 3-1. The Colts used two more Viking miscues in the field and another free pass to scrape across a tally in the fifth frame and build their edge to 4-1.
After a strong four-inning performance from starter Chris Herrin, Colt lefty relief pitcher Zac Brown tossed a scoreless fifth before retiring the first Vike batter in the bottom of the sixth frame. The southpaw was on a limited pitch count, as West Stanly skipper David Lee brought in Eric Huneycutt to spell Brown.
The off-speed hurler with the sidearm delivery was given an abrupt greeting to the game as all Viking four batters he faced made solid contact resulting in a three-hit, three run rally.
Robinson, who went 3-for-4 on the night with the stick, started things off by ripping a frozen rope to left center for a double. Next, rising senior Tyler Davis moved him over to third with a long backside single that took one hop and hit the wall in the right-center gap.
A sacrifice fly off the bat of rising junior catcher Josh McKay brought home Robinson and moved Davis to third. Rising sophomore Tyler McRae then capped off the surge and Huneycutt’s night with single up the middle to trim the colt lead to 4-3.
In its next and final at-bat, Union Pines went right back to work, opening the seventh frame with three straight singles from Barber, Noble Davis and rising sophomore Clay Thomas. Barber was picked off at second for the first out and then a short pop up to right by rising freshman Zack Dinkins brought the game down to the final out with the Vikes still trailing 4-3.
With the stage set, Robinson quickly fell into an 0-2 count only to tie the game with a one-run single to left on the next pitch. The inning and game then came to an end when a sharp grounder to short off the bat of Tyler Davis found the glove of the Colt shortstop, who tossed the ball to second for a 6-4 force out.
Union Pines snapped a five-game losing skid with the result as its CCSSL record moved to 3-10-2, while West Stanly went to 8-5-1 to remain in third place in the Southwest Division standings behind Richmond Senior and Scotland County.
The Vikings are currently in seventh place in the eight-team Southwest Division as their season will end without a trip to the playoffs, which is limited to the top-two teams in each of the CCSSL’s nine divisions.
Union Pines finishes off the summer with a doubleheader rematch on the road against West Stanly, Monday in Oakboro. Game one will be a five-inning contest and is set to start at 4 p.m., while the second game is scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m. and be a full seven innings.
Contact F.W. Manning II at email@example.com.
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