After seeing some tough pitching to start the year, Voyager Academy was ready for whatever the Chatlee Invitational threw its way.
The Vikings won all three games in the two-day tournament, ending with a 9-5 victory against host Southern Lee in the Chatlee Invitational baseball championship Friday, and scored 32 runs in the process.
Against the Cavaliers (12-2), Voyager (6-3) rapped out 14 hits and pitcher Colin Faucette pitched 5 1/3 innings (four runs allowed) to topple the No. 3 team in the N&O area rankings. The Vikings sent up 38 batters on the night and none of them struck out.
Voyager’s only losses have come to Northwood, which is playing in the Bobby Murray Tournament title Saturday, and Cardinal Gibbons, which finished second in the 22-team Golden Leaf Invitational. The Vikings have two wins over 4A programs.
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“We’ve played a tough schedule,” Voyager coach Pete Shankle said. “This is exactly what we expected from this tournament. It’s a big deal. ... We’ve seen quality pitching all year.”
Voyager took a 4-0 lead in the top of the first inning as nine batters came to the plate. The Vikings scored on a passed ball, an error and RBI singles from Ethan Blevins and Brison Willis.
Four more runs followed in the top of the second – RBI singles by Kendall Vincent (2 of 3) and Blevins (2 of 4) and a two-run double by Faucette – and Voyager was up 8-0. Kamayu Neighbors was also 2 of 3.
Faucette is only in his second week of baseball season after joining the team after starting on the boys basketball team’s championship. Vincent was the tournament MVP.
“I didn’t really expect to get it because a lot of my teammates played well today,” said Vincent, a sophomore. “I love hitting a lot and if you throw me a strike, I’m going to hit it and put the ball in play.”
Voyager added an RBI single by Chase Sykes in the top of the third and Southern Lee had an RBI sac fly by Topher Grant in the bottom half of the inning to make it 9-1.
Southern Lee didn’t go away.
The Cavs scraped another across in the bottom of the fifth on a Jonathan Husk (3 of 4) RBI single, then scored on a passed ball and a Noah Terhune two-RBI double in the bottom of the sixth.
“This is a classic example of being beat by a really good team and not being focused to start the game. When you face a really good team like Voyager, you lose those games,” Southern Lee coach David Miller said. “For the last five innings we beat a really good team, but it’s a seven inning game. ... I hope it humbles us a little bit and refocuses us.”
Voyager’s Aaron Beasley picked up the save, retiring five of the last nine batters.
Other games: Union Pines (8-5) fell twice on Friday, 9-7 to Voyager to round out pool play and 11-9 to Anson County (2-10) to finish fourth.
“If you could put spring break in a baseball game, that’s what we were in both games,” said Union Pines coach Eric Marion, lamenting his team’s focus early in games. “You always like to see them respond to adversity, but I would have liked it even more if we had gotten a win.”
Overhills (2-11) and Apex Friendship (1-8) each went 0-2 in the tournament. With the threat of inclement weather, they did not play a fifth-place game.