Prep baseball: East Davidson 4, Salisbury 3
By Mike London
THOMASVILLE — The Central Carolina Conference has four pretty good, pretty even teams, and frustrated Salisbury finished the regular season looking up in the standings at the other three.
With lightning flashing beyond the trees behind the outfield fence, and living legend Dirk Swing calling balls and strikes — mostly strikes — East Davidson edged the visiting Hornets 4-3 on Tuesday on the Golden Eagles’ emotional Senior Night.
“We hit the whole ballgame,” Salisbury coach Scott Maddox said. “We just couldn’t find a way to get them in.”
A simple examination of the boxscore won’t reveal many clues as to how the Hornets (11-9, 6-4), who had an 11-8 edge in hits, could have lost, but lose they did.
“We played good defense, we had the bats rolling, and Philip (Tonseth) did a good job on the mound,” said Salisbury second baseman John Knox. “All you can say is they really wanted this one, and we didn’t do the little things as well as we could have.”
With aces Tonseth and Tyler Lequire toeing the rubber, everyone knew it would come down to little things, and Salisbury had a couple of mental errors and three deadly baserunning mistakes.
Baseball was once again proven to be the greatest game in the world. East Davidson’s Justin Weavil made two errors at third base, but he wound up being the biggest hero.
Weavil’s disputed double in the sixth produced the winning run for the Golden Eagles (13-9, 7-3), who will take a No. 2 seed into the conference tournament, while his tumbling catch in the seventh, after he moved to right field, extracted the last breath from the Hornets.
“Sometimes moves don’t work out, but sometimes they do work out and Coach looks good,” said smiling ED coach Dan Tricarico.
The only 1-2-3 inning was the Salisbury second. Lequire and Tonseth were both in constant trouble, but both were escape artists. ED errors handed Salisbury two extra outs in the second, but the Hornets still couldn’t score.
Salisbury did break through in the third, with Knox reaching on a hustle hit, and Tonseth driving a pitch over the 345-foot marker in left-center for a 2-0 lead.
East Davidson came right back with two in its half. One scored on a throwing error on what could’ve been an inning-ending double play. Lequire’s solid double scored the other.
In the fourth, Salisbury had two on with one out when Knox’s flyball fell safely in left-center. That “hit” should’ve loaded the bases, but Warren scooped up the ball and alertly got a forceout at third base.
“Huge play by Warren,” Tricarico said. “They might’ve had a big inning.”
Ian Swaim’s third hit, a solid double, put the Hornets briefly ahead 3-2 in the fifth. East tied it in the bottom half on Warren’s two-out single.
Tonseth’s night ended when Braxton Shetley, leading off the sixth, singled past a spinning Knox. Brian Bauk replaced Tonseth on the hill, and Luis Tejada’s sacrifice bunt moved the runner 90 feet closer. Weavil followed with a drive toward the 315-sign down the left-field line. Fair or foul? It depended on your allegiance. It was ruled a decisive, go-ahead double.
“I believe it hit the outer part of the foul line,” Tricarico said. “And baseball is like tennis — not basketball.”
Maddox wasn’t a fan of the ruling, but didn’t raise a fuss.
“My left fielder says it was foul; so does my third baseman,” he said. “But it’s not an argument you can win.”
It got worse for the Hornets. Scott Van der Poel delivered a one-out double in the seventh off ED closer Avery Bowles, but Weavil’s circus catch of a sinking liner off the bat of Kyle Wolfe was the second out, and Bowles fanned Swaim to end it.
“We’re second now, but it doesn’t mean much,” Tricarico said. “Four teams can win the tournament. We’re one of four, and so is Salisbury.”