Tri-Nine baseball excels

Staff WriterApril 26, 2011 

The Tri-Nine 4-A Conference showed its baseball clout over the weekend. Eight league teams played in various events, and they won 17 of 19 games.

Athens Drive and Fuquay-Varina each won three games in the 12-team Bobby Murray Invitational at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary. Athens Drive defeated East Wake 19-10 in the championship game.

Athens Drive, East Wake, Person and Fuquay-Varina, another Tri-Nine team, each won its first two games in the tournament. The championship pairings were determined by the number of runs allowed.

"We were sitting there for a while, and it looked like we might end up in the third-place game for the third straight year after going 2-0," Athens Drive coach Joey Bell said. "The first criteria is runs allowed, but the second tie-breaker is walks.

"Until Wakefield got some runs [in a 6-4 loss to Person], it looked like we'd allow one run, two hits and four walks in two tournament games but not get to the finals."

The Jaguars' bats heated up in the title game, but pitching had carried Athens Drive in its first two tournament games.

Chris Williams struck out 11 batters in a 1-0 victory over Wake Forest Heritage in Athens Drive's opener, and Ben Snotherly posted a 2-1 complete-game win over Millbrook.

First baseman Justin Reynolds drove in the winning run in each game.

In the championship win over East Wake, Athens Drive started fast, helped by junior catcher Patrick Mason, who had six hits in the game.

Bell said the tournament was good for his club but that the Jaguars need to keep hitting like they did in the finals.

"The league is good," Bell said. "We need to win our last five games and hope someone else will beat Holly Springs."

Holly Springs (15-2, 11-1) leads the league, and Athens Drive (11-4-1, 8-3) is second. Fuquay-Varina (15-5, 8-4) is third.

Holly Springs' only league loss was to Athens Drive, 2-1. The Jaguars play the Hawks again on May 5, the final regular-season game.

Special all-tournament: One of Southern Lee's two all-tournament performers in the Chatlee Invitational baseball tournament this past weekend didn't bang a hit, throw a strike or even play in a game.

But Cavaliers coach David Miller had other criteria for recognizing senior Bubba Anderson.

Anderson, a special needs student, is the team manager for the baseball and boys basketball teams. Anderson assists the team in practice and sits in the team's dugout during games.

"He's somebody who shows up every day and is part of the program," Miller said. "I thought he was very deserving."

In a basketball game against Fayetteville's Douglas Byrd last season, Anderson scored a basket. The game was highlighted by the N.C. High School Athletic Association for exemplary sportsmanship on both sides.

After receiving his medal for being chosen to the all-tournament baseball team, Anderson went almost immediately to work, helping the rest of the Southern Lee team with the groundskeeping.

Lacrosse starts Friday: The NCHSAA boys and girls lacrosse playoffs start Friday.

Apex, Cardinal Gibbons and East Chapel Hill are expected to get byes in the girls' 24-team bracket.

The boys have a 32-team bracket with no byes.

Panthers move games: North Johnston High's baseball and softball games against Roanoke Rapids today will be played at Princeton High starting around 6:30 p.m. after the completion of the junior varsity games.

The Panthers' home fields were damaged by the April 16 storms.

Knights get help: The Planters Walk Homeowners Association recently held a charity golf tournament that raised $3,200 for the Knightdale High athletic program.

Guy Blough, the Knightdale athletic director, said the most remarkable thing about the event was that it was completely unsolicited.

"They offered to help us wanting nothing in return," Blough said.

Staff writer J. Mike Blake contributed to this report. or 919-829-8910

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