CCC Baseball Tournament: Bauk’s effort wasted by Salisbury
By Mike Duprez
The Lexington Dispatch
TYRO — West Davidson pitcher Justin Freeman was warming up in the bullpen before his scheduled start and Green Dragon coach Jerry Walser thought his ace was looking good.
Once the game started, the sophomore left-hander was positively excellent.
Freeman fired a four-hitter and outdueled Salisbury ace Brian Bauk as the Dragons won 3-0 in their Central Carolina Conference tournament semifinal game on Wednesday at Feezor Field.
“They were chasing some high pitches,” Freeman said. “I felt really good tonight.”
No kidding. Freeman struck a career-high 13 and walked two on raising his record to 6-2. mixed located well all night and threw a backdoor curve that was particularly tough on Salisbury’s right-handed hitters. Salisbury got a runner to third in the first and fourth innings — both times with two out — but that was pretty much it.
The Appalachian State-bound Bauk was almost as good. Throwing a fastball clocked as high as 88 mph, Bauk allowed five hits — three of them to Matt Berrier — while striking out 12 and walking four. The Dragons scored their runs on a passed ball, error and wild pitch.
West (14-10) advanced to today’s championship game against regular season champion East Davidson.
“He’s been good all year,” Walser said. “Salisbury’s a great hitting team and they have been for number of years. We’re tickled at how this turned out.”
Salisbury coach Scott Maddox sure wasn’t. His Hornets, who fell to 12-11, could have clinched the CCC’s No. 2 seed for the 2-A state playoffs and first-round home game that goes along with it.
“We played OK in the field but our approach at the plate was terrible,” Maddox said. “You’ve got to give Freeman some credit. He did a good job. You can’t take pitches when runners are in scoring position. We get a third-strike passed ball. Those things can’t happen. West wanted it worse than we did. We had no emotion, no anything in the dugout. Their guys did what they had to do to win.”
Freeman certainly knew what was at stake Wednesday and again on Thursday.
“It’s important that we get a home game,” Freeman said. “We want to get some momentum going.”
Maddox will have to become an East Davidson fan for one night as an Eagle win Thursday would allow Salisbury, which finished second in the regular season, to keep the No. 2 seed for the playoffs.
“The way we’re playing, I don’t know if deserve a No. 2 seed,” Maddox said. “We’ve got to get better.”
Bauk didn’t the Dragons much but they managed to squeeze through just enough.
After striking out the side in the second, Bauk issued consecutive walks to start the second. Berrier, looking to sacrifice, did even better with a bunt single to load the bases. Bauk struck out Boo Norman on a 3-2 pitch but the ball skipped off catcher Skylar Mikkelson’s glove and rolled to the backstop. Mikkelson scrambled to get the ball and fired it Bauk but Chandler Simerson slide in just ahead of the tag with the game’s first run.
Berrier started the fifth with a bloop double but was thrown out at third by Bauk on Norman’s bunt. Still, the Dragons kept coming. An error Norman to scored and extend West’s lead to 2-0.
The Dragons added another insurance run single on a wild pitch.
“I don’t care if it’s for the No. 2 seed or a candy apple dinner,” Walser said. “We want to beat them real bad and they want to beat us real bad. If you haven’t been to a high school baseball game in a long time you need to come this one tomorrow night.”
The state playoffs begin on May 10.