Peeler Baseball Classic: Davie 12, West Iredell 1: Watson hits three homers
By Ryan Bisesi
SPENCER — In between hugs and high-fives, Joe Watson gained a nickname from adoring Davie County fans after his three-home run performance against West Iredell on Saturday.
The morning showing of the game was canceled due to a wet field, but the matinee was a one-man show in Watson. The Catawba football signee, who had two home runs coming into the first round of the Cliff Peeler Baseball Classic, whacked three in his first three at-bats in Davie’s 12-1 stomping of West in six innings at North Rowan.
All West Iredell coach Randy Martin could do was tip his cap to the War Eagles’ No. 6 hitter.
“We threw him everything,” Martin said. “He hit a curveball out, he hit a fastball out, he hit a slider out. He hit everything we had.”
Martin was right, as Watson was in the zone mentally, despite having to wait six hours after the game’s initial 10 a.m. start. It was the first of two games the War Eagles had to play Saturday.
“I had a knack for what he was throwing,” Watson said. “I knew he was going to throw me some breaking pitches and I jumped on those. I hit two breaking pitches out my first at-bats and I was pretty sure he was going to throw me a fastball in the third.”
Meanwhile, the Warriors (couldn’t hit anything Ryan Foster threw. The junior righthander needed just 74 pitches to total a complete-game, three-hit effort. It was Foster’s sixth complete game of the year.
“I felt my velocity was a little bit down,” said Foster, whose fastball tops out around 88 mph. “My curveball wasn’t as sharp.”
Going for his fourth homer in the sixth, Watson walked on a full count, but Corey Randall followed with his seventh homer of the year to complete the game via the 10-run rule. Randall had a hit in all four of his at-bats and scored three times.
The game was not at all reminiscent of the first meeting between the two, a 4-3 Davie win that was shortened by lightning.
“We made great adjustments and swung the bats well,” Davie coach Mike Herndon said. “We had three, four guys going into the last at-bat with three hits. We faced a pretty good pitcher too in [Sam] Laws.”
After committing a pair of errors in the top of the first inning, Carson Herndon doubled to score Connor Bodenhamer in the bottom of the frame to start the scoring. Lance Clanton tripled to center in top of the second, plating West’s only run in the form of Vance Robinette.
Watson’s first homer was a solo blast that came with one out and on a 2-1 count in the second. Watson’s second homer was again with no one on base in the fourth, a moon shot that the wind guided over the center field fence.
“The first one didn’t feel like it was gone,” Watson said. “The last two came off the bat pretty good.”
Four batters later, leadoff man Alex Newman got the first of two RBI singles for a 4-1 edge. Herndon would score on a wild pitch in the fifth and Watson’s third blast came later in the inning to plate him and Foster. It would end up being a six-run fifth for Davie.
“We haven’t had someone do that in a while,” said Herndon of Watson’s three home runs. “It’s a special thing.”