High School Sports

Triangle conferences 2017 baseball season preview

Green Hope's Connor Knapp (1) celebrates after scoring the second run with Green Hope's Mitch Spence (24) during the Middle Creek Mustang High School baseball game against the Green Hope Falcons on May 4, 2016, in Cary, N..C. Green Hope won 2-0.
Green Hope's Connor Knapp (1) celebrates after scoring the second run with Green Hope's Mitch Spence (24) during the Middle Creek Mustang High School baseball game against the Green Hope Falcons on May 4, 2016, in Cary, N..C. Green Hope won 2-0. newsobserver.com

Green Hope was runner-up in the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A baseball championship a year ago, and there’s a chance the Falcons might be every bit as good this year.

Jordyn Adams, who grew up in the area, moved back last month when his father was hired as an assistant UNC football coach. In addition to being one of the top football players in the state, Adams is also one of the best baseball players.

He joins a solid nucleus and traditionally strong program aiming to win it all this year.

Note: This previews covers conferences where most of the teams are located in Wake, Durham, Orange and Johnston counties. A regional preview covering all other teams will run Sunday.

Cap-8 4A: Sanderson (20-9) is the reigning champ while Heritage (19-5) and Millbrook (15-11) were close behind. Heritage returns Thayer Thomas (.397).

Wakefield (10-11) is led by Hunter Stevens, Trey Hansen and N.C. State recruit Zack Michael, a sophomore. Broughton (7-17) is led by Warren Grady (.386).

Greater Neuse 4A: West Johnston (14-11) won the league, beating out East Wake (13-12) and Clayton (15-9).

West Johnston’s Noah Liles is the league’s top returning hitter, batting .347. Tony Mack (.329) was player of the year and Hunter Hood (1.22 ERA) one of the top pitchers.

PAC-6 4A: Cardinal Gibbons (23-3) is poised for another strong year, returning three N&O All-Metro picks in Gray Betts (.470), Pete Bloomberg (1.21 ERA) and Noah Campbell (.471, 22 stolen bases).

Northern Durham (14-8) brings back East Carolina recruit Spencer Smith. The catcher was conference player of the year (.507, 10 HRs, 35 RBIs). Riverside (15-7) is led by Kimball Toone (.476).

Southwest Wake 4A: Green Hope (25-7) brings back Connor Knapp (.360) from the All-Metro team. Sean McQuillan (.341) and Jordan Montgomery, a Campbell recruit (1.87 ERA), are back as well.

Holly Springs (20-6) has five starters back including catcher Tyler Babin, a Campbell recruit, and pitcher/outfielder Camden Munise. The Falcons will have lots of speed and good pitching.

Middle Creek (17-8) was a co-conference champ with Green Hope and returns six starters including Tucker Rogers, Jonathan D’Ercole and Robbie Frongello (0.27 ERA).

Apex (16-10) will rely on a deep pitching staff of Sam Highfill, Cam Mason, Sam Goff, Kanan Butler and Justin Rhew. C.J. Conrad mans the outfield and Matt Cruz is behind the plate.

Fuquay-Varina (15-12) was fourth in the league but made the third round. The Bengals are led by UNC-Wilmington recruit Brycen Braswell (.342) and Kyle Jackson (.378).

Athens Drive (13-13) will look to Sam Enders (.361) and Kenny Venditti (1.62 ERA). Panther Creek (13-12) graduated five starters. Cary (9-14) is led by UNC-Wilmington recruit Greg Jones Jr. (.459) .

Big 8 3A: Orange (21-7) edged out Chapel Hill (21-7) and Northwood (19-7) for last year’s title. Orange’s top returning hitter is Jason Slaughter (.292).

Chapel Hill returns the bats of Garrett Liebe (.319), Colin Liebe, Anthony Castellano (.326), Tyler Hansen, Ryan Lonegan and Drew Govert (.367) and the arms of Jackson Pettee, Tyler Hansen and Tucker Gardner.

Northwood catcher Matt Oldham (.392) and pitcher Patrick Szczpinksi (1.57 ERA) lead the Chargers.

Two Rivers 3A: Cleveland (22-4) won the conference last year and has one of the area’s top players in shortstop Tyler Keenan (.471, three home runs, 28 RBIs), an Ole Miss recruit. Bobby Dixon (.365) holds it down behind the plate.

Corinth Holders (19-9), South Johnston (16-9) and Triton (17-9) gave the league four single-loss teams. Corinth had the deepest playoff run, going to the 3A East finals.

NCAC 1A: Voyager Academy (17-5) is still the team to beat. Lucas Wier (.527) leads Franklin Academy (8-16). Roxboro Community (11-9) will rely on Seth Gentry (.414).

Private schools: Wake Christian (14-8) returns Zackary Guyer (.365) as its leading hitter.

North Raleigh Christian (14-9) is led by Michael Caveney and Benjamin Tilley

Durham Academy (11-8) brings back seniors Aidan Therien and Charlie Johnston and a strong core of juniors: Ian Layzer, Cam Brown, Ted Middleton, David Klein, Drew Meredith, Matt Willis and Shane Smith.

Ravenscroft (8-15) is looking to bounce back with seven returning starters.

Seniors Erick Jordan (.327)and Pearce Sanderson (0.88 ERA) and sophomore Will Tierney (.303) will help lead the effort.

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