CHERRYVILLE–With the pitching staffs of both teams wearing thin, Sunday night`s game four of the Area 4 semifinal series between Caldwell County and Cherryville figured to be a high-scoring affair.
The problem for Cherryville was that Caldwell County did most of the scoring.
Post 29 battered Cherryville pitching for 15 hits and scored eight runs in one inning on its way to a 14-2 victory that wrapped up the series three games to one.
As it turned out, Caldwell County had the deeper pitching staff thanks to a dominating performance by righthander Zak Laws, who scattered six hits and retired seven in a row to close out the game.
“We didn`t get the job done at the plate. (Laws) did a good job on the mound. You are in pretty good shape when your No. 4 guy has a college scholarship to go somewhere,” Post 100 coach Bobby Reynolds said of Laws, who is headed to Wingate in the fall.
Cherryville tried four pitchers against Caldwell, none with much success. Starter Chris Henderson exited in the fourth with a 3-0 deficit, and ace Wayne McDonald came on in relief.
Working on just two days rest after pitching nine inning in the series opener, McDonald was not his usual self. In the top of the fifth, McDonald gave up a leadoff homer by Madison Bumgarner and a triple by Matt Braswell.
Those two hits ignited an eight-run fifth inning that broke the game open and pushed Caldwell`s lead to 12-1. Casey Justice hit a three-run homer in the inning, and Braswell knocked in two runs with his second hit of the inning.
The game got off to a sour start for Cherryville in front of a packed house at Fraley Field. Leadoff batter T.J. Jenkins reached on an infield error, and Post 29 went on to score three runs on four hits.
“The first three games were very tough, but we got behind in this one and couldn`t catch up,” Reynolds said. “It was just not our night. We were hoping to keep it under 10 and maybe something would happen late. But give them credit for doing the job at the plate.”
Cherryville`s only runs came on a fourth-inning single by Kyle Martin and fifth-inning double by Steven Hoyle.
Post 29 backed Laws` pitching with flawless defense, including a 5-4-3 double play in the second inning.
“This was as sweet as anything,” said Caldwell coach Gary Hamby after his team ended a 10-year drought against Cherryville in the Area Four playoffs. “I was so gald that we were able to bring our A game into a game of this magnitude. We ended the series with our defense shining and got one of our best pitching performances of the season.”
Cherryville had won five straight playoff series over Caldwell, three in the Area 4 finals, one in the semifinals and one in the second round.
Brandon Banks, now the pitching coach for Post 29, was a member of the last Caldwell team to beat Cherryville in the playoffs in 1994. Ironically, Caldwell was wrapped up that series on Cherryville`s home field.
By advancing to the best-of-five Area 4 finals, Caldwell (31-4) assures itself of a berth in the state tournament at Cherryville July 29-Aug. 2. Caldwell`s opponent in the area championship will be Shelby, which beat Pineville three games to one.
The state tournament will have a distinctly local flavor with host Cherryville, Caldwell and Shelby in the eight-team field.
As for Cherryville, Reynolds said he will give his team a few days off and begin preparation for the state tournament with a practice on Wednesday.
Ca 300 180 2–14 15 0
Ch 000 110 0–2 6 2
Laws and York. Henderson, McDonald (4), Rhodes (5), Cook (6) and Glover. W–Laws. L–Henderson. HRs, Caldwell, Justice, Bumgarner.
Caldwell 10, Cherryville 8â€”At Granite Falls, Matt Braswellâ€™s three-run double in the seventh inning propelled Caldwell to a win in a game marked by several momentum switches.
Cherryville led twice in the game, at 5-3 and at 8-7 on Paul Fingerâ€™s three-run home run in the top of the seventh.
However, Braswell doubled with the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh off reliever Steven Justice to put Caldwell County ahead to stay.
Brad Hardee hit a pair of two-run homers for Post 29, both coming off Cherryville starting pitcher Daniel Styers.
Dylan Anthony had four hits in five at-bats for Post 100, and Evan Wise went 2-for-4 with two RBI. Wise also narrowly missed a three-run home run in the seventh, driving a pitch to the deepest part of center field.
Cherryville 4, Caldwell County 3â€”At Fraley Field in Cherryville, Post 100 rallied for four runs in the bottom of the seventh to erase a 3-0 deficit.
Held to only one hit through seven innings by Post 29 starter Russell Reid, Cherryville tied the game on Kyle Martinâ€™s opposite field two-RBI double and took the lead on Josh Dayâ€™s run-scoring single to left.
Cherryville did all of its scoring with two outs.
Lefthander Kyle Snyder, a Lincolnton High School product, pitched a complete game win for Post 100, scattering nine hits and striking out seven.
Post 100 coach Bobby Reynolds (25) has a meeting with his infield during a break in the action Friday night against Caldwell County. Chris Dean / LTN Photo
by Mike Powell