Baseball was always meant to be played on sunny afternoons. That’s why both sides had fun Saturday at East Chapel Hill High School.
Even though his team lost, 12-1 to the host Wildcats, Carrboro head coach Shaughn Neal still liked playing the game on an albeit brisk Saturday.
“I’ve always enjoyed a saturday game,” Neal said. “You don’t have to go to classes. We get up and have a team breakfast and then come to the ball park. You don’t have any other responsibilities than getting to the ballpark and playing the game. It just has a little bit more of a big league feel, and it’s just more fun.”
Saturday afternoon’s game was the second in less than 24 hours between the two district rivals. East Chapel Hill won 8-6 Friday evening at Carrboro.
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East Chapel Hill (3-0) won Saturday for the third time in four days, and for the second time needed just five innings to win. The Wildcats opened their regular season with an 11-1 win Wednesday against Cedar Ridge.
“Obviously, anytime you can win three games in a week, that’s a good week,” East Chapel hill head coach Phil Woodell said. “I’ve seen us grow. Right now, we seem to be swinging the bats a little better than what I had expected.”
East pounded out 12 hits Friday night at Carrboro – paced by a 3-for-5 performance by Sean Moore – and had zero errors in the field. Saturday, the Wildcats had 11 hits, with Jeb Byerley (2-3, RBI), Ryan Fajack (2-2, two 2B, 4 RBI), Jackson Hicks (2-4), and Bryce Jeske (2-3) all getting two hits.
East junior Chris Clarke started Friday at Carrboro and notched a pitching win, while Hicks came on to get the last two outs of the sixth and recorded a save on just 15 pitches.
Hicks, making his first start on the mound, picked up the win Saturday by striking out six Jaguars, walking two and giving up three hits over five innings.
Carrboro (0-3) has won just once in last six games on a Saturday, but even that has its positives, said Neal. He noted that Carrboro lost 11-0 to West Stanley on a Saturday. But after that loss on April 11, 2015, Carrboro won six straight and six of its next 10; and that streak included a 8-7 win on Saturday, May 2 over Reidsville to clinch the Md-State championship.
“That was the turning point of the season for us,” Neal said. “Saturday games are definitely worthwhile.”
With one out and two on in the bottom of the second innng Saturday, East Chapel Hill leftfielder Jeb Byerley lined a shot past second base that scored Josh Petterson and Ryan Fajack for a 3-0 Wildcat lead.
Carrboro had rallied to make it a 3-1 game in the top of the third after Curis Kinnaman singled his way on base and later scored on a sacrifice fly by Collin Andres. And the Jaguars were threatening again in the fourth with Will Wagner and Greg Watson drawing walks. But East got out of the inning with a double play of second-baseman Chris Clarke to shortstop Sean Moore to Petterson at first.
Three to know
Sean Moore, East Chapel Hill: Moore pitched a five-inning, complete game against Cedar Ridge, with eight strikeouts and zero walks. He batted 3-for-5 Friday.
Jackson Hicks, East Chapel Hill: In less than 24 hours, the versatile Hicks recorded a win and a save on the mound, and he batted 5-for-8 over two games and 7-for-11 over three.
Matthew Junker, Carrboro: A two-way starter on Carrboro’s football team, Junker struggled some on the mound Saturday, but he was the most consistent Jaguar batter in the series with East, hitting 3-for-6 with two RBI.
By the numbers
23: hits for East Chapel Hill in two games against Carrboro.
11: hits for Carrboro in the two games.
0: errors by the Wildcats in Saturday’s win, a vast improvement over the three they committed Friday at Carrboro.
.636: Jackson Hicks’ batting average for East’s first three games.
23: men left on base by East over three games.