Bats from up and down the lineup and even the bench played a crucial role as Apex baseball moved atop the Southwest Wake Athletic Conference, downing crosstown rival Panther Creek 10-4 at home Tuesday night.
Eleven different players had hits for the Cougars, a statistic that bodes well for an Apex (6-2, 5-1) squad searching for its first winning season since 2011. On a team with 11 seniors, they aren’t passive in chasing a chance to go out on top.
“They’re a really tight group and I’m proud of them because we have practice at 4 o’clock and they’re here at 3 o’clock doing work in the cage and that’s not something I ask them to do, it’s something they want to do,” Apex coach Mike Valder said. “There’s a hunger and there’s desire. Everyone is figuring out their role.”
The Cougars actually found themselves in a 3-1 hole entering the bottom of the fourth inning, but found their composure and rattled off eight straight runs. Kanan Butler, Trevor Mulligan, Ben Highfill, Jordan Mann and C.J. Conrad all had RBIs in the inning.
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Panther Creek (6-3, 4-3) allowed double-digit runs for the first time all season.
“We didn’t pitch as well as we expected to and capitalized off of some our mistakes defensively and that’s what good ball clubs do,” Panther Creek coach Dan Hall said. “We do have a scrappy group and they’ll keep fighting through it.”
James Hooks’ double and Mann’s single to open the bottom of the fourth set off a barrage of hits for the Cougars.
“James Hooks had a great at bat with two strikes, puts the ball down the left field line and Jordan Mann comes in behind him and all of a sudden we caught fire,” Valder said. “It’s not often you put up eight in one inning against someone in this conference.”
They said it
“We have a family feel. We’re all close together, we all talk about anything with each other; and when we have time to mess around, we mess around, but when we need to be serious, we know to be serious,” Mann said. “We’re going out and having fun.”
Three to know
Ty Birling, Panther Creek: Birling went 1-for-2 with an RBI and also pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings.
Nate Robinson, Apex: Pinch running for Nick Montrose, Robinson stole second base and took advantage of a wild throw to make it all the way home one pitch later for the final run of the night. He also hit a single as a pitch-hitter in the bottom of the sixth.
Jordan Mann, Apex: Mann went 2-for-3 with one RBI and one run.
Just after the offensive onslaught to close the fourth, Apex opened up the fifth inning with an acrobatic diving catch in center field from Esteban Valencia.
By the numbers
5: Players to have hits for Catamounts – Braeden Magee, Bryceson Hernandez, Ben Rosenberger, Cole Barnacascel and Birling. Birling, Rosenberger and Magee had RBIs. Ben LaSpaluto reached home on an error.
8: Runs Panther Creek allowed in one inning. The Catamounts hadn’t allowed more than seven in a game all season.