Apex beat Cary 9-2 in a Southwest Wake Athletic Conference baseball game that was never in doubt on Friday night at the Imps’ cozy field between the school and towering pine trees that line the outfield fences.
But despite Cary’s loss, Imps third baseman Mitchell Haroldson was the Babe Ruth of the school’s third annual cancer fundraising event known as “Basebald” because of the players’ shaved heads. The junior raised $4,000 on his own for the event that benefits the Vs. Cancer Foundation with funds for the UNC Children’s Hospital and national research.
“I just got out there early and knocked on a lot of doors and sent out mass emails,” Haroldson said of the pledges he collected. “I hit up a lot of neighbors. It was fun working on it. I encourage everyone to do it.”
The first two years of Basebald, Cary played different teams, and the events raised a total of $5,000. But Cary baseball coach Brian Yerger and Apex coach Mike Valder, colleagues and old friends, decided to combine forces. They designated their SWAC game as Basebald and put their players to work raising money.
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Including Haroldson’s home-run figure, the total approached $10,000 before the donations from fans and concession funds from the night were calculated.
The Vs. Cancer Foundation is run by Chase Jones, a former North Carolina baseball player who survived a brain tumor during his college career playing for the Tar Heels.
“When I was going through my treatments, I was next to young kids experiencing the same thing,” said Jones, who threw out the first pitch at Friday’s game. “I wanted to do something to make a difference. This is a way for the (Cary and Apex) kids to realize they can make a difference. We want some of the money to stay local, so that is why we donate to UNC Children’s Hospital.”
In the game, Apex improved to 3-3 overall and 2-1 in SWAC play, while Cary dropped to 0-5 and 0-2.
Apex took advantage of walks and hit batters with aggressive base running to score three runs in the second inning and two more in the fourth for a 5-0 lead.
In the fourth, Esteban Valencia walked and advanced to second on shortstop Ben Highfill’s single. He and Highfill then executed a double-steal and Valencia came home on a sacrifice fly ball hit by second baseman Hartwell Perkinson.
Valencia finished with three walks and one single in five plate appearances and two runs scored. Highfill was three of four with one run scored and two RBIs.
Apex pitcher Carter Hicks allowed only one run on three hits before he was relieved after four innings. Valder said he wanted to give some pitchers work because of the postponed games and practices due to weather.
Cary scored single runs in the fourth and sixth innings. Kyle Gensler scored in the fourth after he reached first on a walk and advanced on a single, fielder’s choice and error. J.C. Barringer walked in the sixth and scored after back-to-back singles by Jason Hohe and Grant Hayes.