Cary News: Sports

Pitching was key for Cary Academy wins over Ravenscroft

Some fans were a bit perplexed when they arrived at Cary Academy Friday to see the Chargers’ unbeaten baseball team host Ravenscroft in a game scheduled for 7 p.m.

Play was already well underway, and the scoreboard showed the visitors leading 13-0.

Then, after the final out, Cary Academy coach Ray Pope greeted his players with hearty congratulations and later mingled among fans with a big smile.

“One guy said, ‘You sure look happy for a coach that just lost 13-0,’ ” Pope later said with a grin.

The confused fans soon learned that after Cary Academy’s scheduled game Thursday at Ravenscroft was rained out, the teams agreed to a double-header of five-inning games on Friday with Ravenscroft officially the home team for the first contest.

By the end of the day, Cary Academy’s unblemished record was intact as the Chargers followed up their 13-0 win as the visitors with a 10-0 victory in the nightcap as the home club.

Cary Academy improved to 19-0 overall and 6-0 in the TISAC. The Chargers, ranked No. 3 in the state in their private school division, are closing in on a second straight conference title.

Chargers left fielder Raymond Reynolds scored three runs in the first game and two more in the second. Catcher Ben Ramger notched three runs in the first and one in the second, and shortstop Zack Layne also got three in the first and one in the second.

But the story in both contests was pitching, as two seniors tossed complete-game shutouts.

In the opener, Keenan Szulik struck out six and limited Ravenscroft to two hits. In the second game, Tyler Holt struck out four and held the Ravens to one hit until they scratched out two infield singles in the fifth inning.

“They were both dominating tonight,” Pope said. “They were throwing hard and did a good job of hitting their spots.”

They also remained sharp in the one-sided games, a challenge when they were stuck in the dugout for lengthy periods while their teammates were batting around.

“They’re seasoned pitchers,” Pope said. “They don’t let a lot of things rattle them. They stay focused and do their job.”

Both seniors will continue their pitching careers in college. Szulik has committed to Amherst, an NCAA Division III school in Massachusetts.

“I was looking for a good academic school,” Szulik said. “I visited the school, thought they had a good (baseball) program and the academics, of course, are stellar.”

In the second game, Szulik supported Holt with three runs scored and three hits, including a pair of RBI doubles. Holt helped his own cause with two singles and two runs scored.

Holt is bound for Louisburg College, a North Carolina residential junior college, and he’s grateful for the opportunity after missing all but two games of his junior year with an elbow injury.

He underwent Tommy John surgery, when a tendon is grafted to replace a damaged elbow ligament, and has put together a season worthy of a comeback-of-the-year award.

“I’m blessed to have an opportunity to keep playing in college,” Holt said. “I’m so proud of this team this year after I was sad I didn’t get a chance to play last year. This season is beyond my expectations.”

Holt’s return added to the Chargers’ senior-dominated lineup.

“We have six seniors that have been playing together for four years,” Szulik said. “I think we’ve built a good team chemistry and that’s why we’ve been successful. We knew we had a great team coming back.”