Lexington beats Kannapolis, clinches division title
Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 2, 2008
By Mike London
KANNAPOLIS ó Exhausted Lexington catcher Ben Redmond quietly removed his mask and shinguards before slowly jogging down the right-field line at Veterans Field to join a huddle of champions.
Redmond, who was behind the plate for all 16 innings of his team’s doubleheader sweep on Wednesday, performed relentlessly and flawlessly.
Lexington followed its 8-3 win at South Rowan with a 9-4 victory at Kannapolis and claimed the regular-season title in the Southern Division of Area III.
Two wins at two difficult road venues in a matter of hours is excellent work, especially for a squad that had to shake off a disappointing 10-inning loss to Rowan on Tuesday.
“I’m tired, but it was fun and it was worth it,” said Redmond, who dined at Wendy’s between games. “We’ve played doubleheaders before, but this is the first time I can ever remember us winning both games. That’s hard to do, but we got some great pitching all day.”
Lexington (19-7, 15-3) needed a sweep to move ahead of Mooresville, which stood 11-0 in the league on June 24 but has dropped four of its last six.
“I’ve been around since 1993 when I was a player, and the highest I can remember a Lexington team finishing in the regular season is third,” Post 8 coach Matt Griffin said. “Give all the credit to our players. They had to listen to a lot of talk about who we didn’t have or guys that we could have had, but they got together and decided that we are who we are, and they went out and played.”
Post 8 doesn’t have four stellar athletes who played high school ball in Davidson County this spring and have committed to ACC or SEC programs, but it does have shortstop Zack Briggs, an Appalachian State recruit who blistered his 15th homer of the summer and scored on each of his five trips to the plate. It also has West Davidson lefty Jordon Hudson, who nearly went the distance. Hudson looked done in the sixth when Kannapolis (8-10, 10-12) scored twice, but Griffin stayed with him. The seventh and eighth were Hudson’s strongest frames, and Kannapolis didn’t get Hudson out of the game until Jason Brown homered and Hunter Pate and Alex Edwards singled in the ninth.
“Some coaches would’ve pulled Jordon in the sixth,” Griffin said. “But his pitch-count was still low, and he was still throwing strikes. You have to be careful not to burn up your bullpen, so we stuck with him.”
Kannapolis got a decent start from young right-hander John Tuttle, but shaky defense contributed to an 8-1 hole. Daniel Welch pitched well in relief, allowing only Briggs’ bomb in his three innings, but Kannapolis couldn’t climb back into it.
“Hudson always worked ahead and did a great job for them,” Kannapolis coach Matt Stack said. “I was impressed with their hitters. They have good eyes. There were a lot of pitches we threw low in the zone, right where we wanted them, but they laid off.”