The sound of their bats revealed as much as anything about the East Chapel Hill and Orange High School baseball teams.
Every time the Wildcats made contact last Wednesday, their metal bats gave off that loud “ping,” so familiar to baseball fans for the past four decades. When the Panthers hit the ball, it sounded like someone slamming a car trunk with a sledge hammer.
“Those are some grown men,” East baseball coach Phil Woodell said, watching the Panthers rake their field after getting a 6-5, come-from-behind win in extra-innings Wednesday against the Wildcats. “They are going to make some noise in their conference.”
Orange coach Dean Dease agreed that the top of his lineup – Cameron Mehl, Garrett Cloer, Brad Debo, Austin Sykes and Bryse Wilson – could do some damage.
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“We feel good about those guys’ chances when we have people in scoring position,” Dease said.
Despite getting six hits and giving up just three in the first five innings Wednesday, Orange (4-1) committed four errors and trailed 5-2 with one out in the bottom of the seventh. Consecutive shots into center field by Landon Riley and Eric Compton put the tying run at the plate. Cloer reached first on a fielder’s choice as Riley was put out trying for home.
That brought Debo to the plate. He lined into right field to score Compton. Wilson followed with a 2-RBI single into center to tie the game at 5-5.
Orange left-hander Mile Acosta, who earned Wednesday’s win on the mound with two innings of work, allowed two East runners on base in the eighth but picked one off to get out of the inning without damage.
Back-to-back errors by East in the bottom of the eighth allowed Eli Lockwood to get on base and then to score the game-winning run as Riley laid down a bunt and the Wildcats’ throw to first sailed into Orange’s dugout.
“This is an important win,” said Debo, went 2-for-4 Wednesday, including a two-run homer in the fourth inning. “It should give us some confidence when we get in close conference games.”
Cameron Mehl also went 2-4, while Cloer was 1-3 and Jonathan Flynn 1-2 for Orange.
“Orange is a quality team. You have to play well up here to have a chance to win,” Woodell said.
Sean Moore led East Chapel Hill (2-2) at the plate by going 2-for-4 with an RBI. Austin Shank was 1-3 and D.J. Recny 1-4.
“We played well enough for the most part,” Woodell observed. “Our kids played hard. We just didn’t pull it off.”