By David Rogers. BOONE, N.C. — A 5-run outburst in the first inning by visiting Cuthbertson proved to be all the visitors needed to overwhelm host Watauga on May 9, 7-3, in the first round of the North Carolina state playoff tournament.
With Watauga’s sophomore pitching ace J T Cook on the mound, Cuthbertson junior right fielder Blake McKinney sliced a a 1-out double to the fence in the left field corner, just inside the foul line. That got things started for the Cavaliers and senior Thomas Paxton followed, patiently watching a low, 3-2 pitch by Cook just miss the inside corner to draw a walk.
Cook seemed to recover with a strikeout of junior Tyler Potts for the second out, but when McKinney stole third base and Paxton stole second, the Cavaliers suddenly had two runners in scoring position should the next batter, junior Calvin Douglas, come through with any kind of a hit.
Douglas came through for the visitors, ripping a single to center that scored both runners, the relay throw from the outfield arriving just a bit too late to catch the speedy Paxton diving across the plate.
Watauga looked to get out of the inning when Cuthbertson’s Ryan Greenspan knocked a grounder toward third, but a double fielding error — one by third baseman Cooper Riddle and another by first baseman David Pastusic — allowed Douglas to advance to third and then find home for the Cavaliers’ third run of the opening frame. The sequence also allowed Greenspan to put himself in scoring position by claiming second base.
Senior Ty Fratarolli put runners on the corners for Cuthbertson with a line drive single to left, the third base coach stopping Greenspan at third.
Their caution paid off on the next batter. After Fratarolli took advantage of having a teammate on third and stole second to put himself in scoring position on any kind of hit, senior Mark Salicco ripped a double to the gap in right field, plating both Greenspan and Fratarolli.
A fly out to centerfielder Johnny Ray ended the inning, but the Cavaliers had gotten all they would need in offensive production to win the day and move on to Round 2 against either No. 4 seed Hickory Ridge or No. 29, Southwest Guilford.
The Cavaliers added two more insurance runs in the second inning and that early offensive production, along with solid pitching by NC State-bound junior Tristan Potts and no errors by the Cuthbertson defense won the day for the visitors.
The Pioneers manufactured two runs in the bottom half of the 6th inning when Jameson Hodges led off with a line drive to the centerfield gap and sophomore shortstop Maddox Greene followed with a single to put runners at first and second (Hodges unable to advance on the play). Jacob Dilley loaded the bases with a shallow single to right that advanced the runners, then Tristan Salinas lifted a long fly ball to left, with Hodges tagging up and running home for the Pioneers’ first run on the sacrifice fly.
Greene was held up at second, but the speedster was able to score when Riddle singled to left. Potts wiggled out of the inning without any further damage, the score now 7-2.
Watauga got another leadoff double in the bottom of the 7th inning when Cook hammered a double to the fence in center, yielding to pinch runner Evan Burroughs. After waiting through two strikeouts, Burroughs raced home when Greene laced a grounder through the infield to left for the Pioneers’ final run.
In picking up the win, Potts’ recorded 102 pitches. Cook was credited with the loss for the Pioneers.
- WAT – Cooper Riddle 1-3, 1 RBI
- WAT – Maddox Greene 2-4, 1 run scored, 1 RBI
- WAT – Tristan Salinas 0-2, 1 RBI, Sac Fly
- WAT – J T Cook, 3-3, 2B
- WAT – Jameson Hodges 1-3, 1 run scored, 2B
- CUT – Blake McKinney 1-3, 1 run scored, 2B, SB
- CUT – Thomas Paxton 1-2, 2 runs scored, 1 RBI
- CUT – Calvin Douglas 1-1, 1 run scored, 2 RBIs, 3 walks, SB
- CUT – Ty Fratarolli 2-4, 1 run scored, SB
- CUT – Mark Salicco 2-4, 2 RBIs, 2B
North Carolina 4A Playoffs, West Bracket, Round 1 Scores
- No. 1 T C Roberson 16, No. 32 Lake Norman 0
- No. 17 Southeast Guilford 7, No. 16 Asheville 3
- No. 8 Hopewell 4, No. 25 Glenn 3
- No. 24 South Caldwell 4, No 9 Butler 0
- No. 5 Weddington 14, No. 28 Moore 2
- No. 12 Myers Park 7, No. 21 Hough 5
- No. 20 Cuthbertson 7, No. 13 Watauga 3
- No. 4 Hickory Ridge 14, Southwest Guilford 2
- No. 3 Northwest Guildford 9, No. 30 Marvin Ridge 8
- No. 14 West Forsyth 5, No. 19 Charlotte Catholic 4
- No. 6 Alexander Central 16, No. 27 A.C. Reynolds 11
- No. 11 Providence 3, No. 22 Porter Ridge 0
- No. 7 Ardrey Kell 6, No. 26 Sun Valley 0
- No. 10 Reagan 1, No. 23 South Mecklenburg 0
- No. 18 Davie 12, No. 15 Ragsdale 1
- No. 2 East Forsyth 8, No. 31 Olympic 3