One of the secrets to success in baseball is learning to handle failure.
After all, the greatest batters in baseball's Hall of Fame connected for hits less than half the time they were at the plate.
East Chapel Hill learned from the mistakes it committed during a 2-1 loss Tuesday at Chapel Hill and turned that into a 5-2 win Thursday when it was the Wildcats' turn to host in the home-and-away high school series.
“It's a big win,” East Chapel Hill coach Phil Woodell said. “Chapel Hill is a well-coached club with good players – and they're obviously a cross-town rival.
“Our kids battled the other night and came up short. Some of those guys who may not have had their best night over there at Chapel Hill stepped up and contributed today.”
Thursday’s win literally was the first time East Chapel Hill's players stepped onto their own field as a team this season. Snow and rain had kept the field too soggy for use without damage during the preseason. The Wildcats got a practice scrimmage under their belts Monday at Oxford Webb and then played Tuesday at Chapel Hill. Wednesday, the varsity worked in the batting cage and gym as the East JVs played a home game.
“We've been battling the weather all year,” East Chapel Hill's Sean Moore said. “So it's great to finally get on the field and get a win.
“This was huge. It was a great bounce-back win for us. It helps get our confidence going – 1-1 heading into conference play.”
Moore was 2-for-3 at the plate Thursday, including a shot into center in the third inning to drive in Bennett Byerley for a 2-1 East lead. The next man up, designated hitter James Brady grounded out but drove in D.J. Recny, and his RBI notched the win for right-hander John Bauman (1-0), who pitched three innings of middle relief. Moore drove in Byerley (1-4) with another shot into center in the sixth for a 4-1 lead.
Chapel Hill (2-1) managed to bang out six hits Thursday, with the lion’s share hit by Andrew Miller (3-for-3).
Miller, 2014’s PAC-6 pitcher of the year after going 6-0 on the mound, suffered his first loss in more than a year after giving up six hits at East.
Chapel Hill head coach Lee Land was disappointed with his team’s overall performance, especially in light of a season-opening win, 12-1, Saturday against 4A Person and then Tuesday against East.
“Today it was focus, mentality, effort, concentration. Name every one of those words and, whatever it was, we didn't bring it today,” Land said. “To come out here against a team that's considered a rival and to lay an egg like that is disappointing.”
Tuesday’s game at Tiger Baseball Stadium provided a sharp contrast for later in the week. Both teams looked solid on defense and, despite East coming away with only two hits, both teams took good swings and put the ball into play all night.
Moore struck out five and walked none of the 20 Tigers he faced. Chapel Hill starter Sam Sisk was just as strong, striking out seven and walking three while giving up just two hits.
“Both teams were terrific tonight,” Land said Tuesday after Chapel Hill picked up its second win in four days.
Connor Stough, a junior transfer from East, picked up Tuesday’s win for Chapel Hill after relieving Sisk with one out in the seventh and East’s Jackson Hicks (1-3) standing on third with the potential tying run.
“It was a tough situation, but I knew my teammates had my back,” Stough said.
Chapel Hill’s Nick Hebert – 4-6 with five RBI so far this season – provided the game-winning RBI Tuesday by drawing a walk with the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh, driving in Austin Shanks.