If the Cary baseball team wants to move up the Southwest Wake Athletic Conference, brothers Mitchell and Spencer Haroldson will need to lead the way.
They did that in a 9-7 victory against East Wake on wet Wednesday night. Sophomore Spencer Haroldson had two hits, drove in three runs and gave up only two hits in four innings as the Imps’ starting pitcher.
Older brother Mitchell, a senior, drove in two runs and made some nifty plays on a soggy infield at third base. Mitchell tried to close out the game on the mound, but after getting two quick strikeouts, the wheels came off, and East Wake made a game of it with five unearned runs.
But Matt Lyon got the final out on a strikeout with the bases loaded as Cary (1-1) got its first win of the young season.
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“It was really scary, but I knew we had it,” Spencer Haroldson said of the Warriors’ late rally. “Our team, we fight all the way to the end.”
East Wake fought to the end, too.
Down to their last out, Jake Watkins had a two-out single before Quez Holden lifted a routine fly ball to center that Connor Hill dropped. Four walks, a single, an error and a hit batsmen later, the Warriors (0-1) had the winning run on base. But Cary survived.
“To see them come back like that, at least you know you’ve got players who still want to play and get the fire back,” East Wake coach Derek Matthews said. “They didn’t give up. Down 9-2 and come back to make it 9-7 is a pretty big deal.”
Like a lot of spring sports teams, the Warriors have been affected by the missed school days – and practices. Matthews finally got his team on its baseball field for the first time Saturday, and he used Wednesday’s opener like spring training. Five pitchers threw against the Imps, and Matthews shuffled several players through his lineup.
“Offensively, we’re going to be OK this year,” Matthews said. “I’ve got to see other pitchers. I’m not worried about a win or loss – I’ve got six pitchers who have to throw, and this is the only game we’ve got this week. We start conference play next week, and I’ve got to see some people throw to some batters. That’s the crazy year it’s been.”
Cary played its opener Tuesday and faces Green Hope in a SWAC game Friday night. To reach the playoffs for the first time since 2006, coach Brian Yerger will need clutch performance’s like the Haroldson brothers had Wednesday.
“I can’t say enough about either one of them,” Yerger said. “Mitchell is our captain, and he is the heart and soul of this team. His brother came up with the big hit tonight, and you can see he’s picking right up in his brother’s footsteps.”
Spencer’s single in the third gave Cary a 2-1 lead, and Mitchell pushed it to 4-1 with a two-run single in the fifth. Spencer then had a two-out, two-run double in the sixth that gave the Imps a 9-2 lead.
“We’ve always decent talent, but we’ve changed the mindset,” Mitchell said. “We’ve had some older players who didn’t really buy in. But this is a team; this team has bought in. It’s going to take us as far as it can in every way. I’m proud of what we do, and I’m proud of this team. This a great team, and I can’t wait to show it.”