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Prep baseball: Davie 6, Carson 0

By Mike London
mlondon@salisburypost.com
CHINA GROVE — When Davie County sophomore Hunter Aref missed a bunt sign in the second inning, coach Mike Herndon jumped on him loudly enough that they heard him in Mocksville and Cooleemee with no problem.
Non-conference or not, Herndon and the War Eagles took Wednesday’s game at Carson very seriously. Davie had lost two straight, and Davie’s too talented to lose two straight.
Aref redeemed himself by scoring two runs, and Davie righted the ship with a 6-0 win against the Cougars.
It’s not like Carson (8-6) kicked it around or stunk it up — Carson never stinks it up — it’s just that when talented Davie (10-3) is focused and ready to play, it should be a handful for anyone on its schedule.
Sudden lapses have troubled the War Eagles. They were cruising in the sixth against Lake Norman on Monday when the Wildcats put together a huge inning out of nowhere with walks, HBPs and a grand slam. Davie got snowballed 7-6.
“The last couple games we hadn’t matched the intensity of our opponents,” said Taylor Garczynski, the sprinter who is stationed in center field for the War Eagles. “But tonight we had a lot better attitude and a good plan, and we always know we’re going to get very good pitching.”
The strong pitching performance against Carson came from Corey Randall (5-1). He was super, needing just 77 pitches to take care of the Cougars. He went seven and could’ve gone 11. He only struck out four, but he didn’t walk anyone, and there was a serious defensive clinic being conducted behind him.
“I had a good two-seam fastball, and I mainly got outs with sliders,” said Randall, a talented slugger/pitcher who signed with UNC Asheville. “Carson’s a good team, but we played a lot of good defense tonight.”
It was the first lopsided loss of the season for the Cougars, but coach Chris Cauble located positives.
“We took a step in the right direction at the plate,” he said. “We had a lot of quality at-bats. We put it in play and hit a lot of balls hard. Davie just made all the plays.”
Carson’s pitching staff is deep and the Cougars also are in their least active stretch of the season, so Cauble planned to get a lot of rested and restless hurlers some work.
Ethan Free, Austin Bracewell, Dillon Atwell and Colton Laws took turns jogging to the mound.
Catawba signee Free, who started, hasn’t had any luck at all this season and took the loss. His record is 0-5 despite an ERA of 1.84.
Bracewell was nicked for a run in his two innings, the first time he’s been scored on all season. Atwell allowed an unearned run but fanned three in his inning of work. Laws, on the mound for only the second time this year, gave up a scratch run but looked as sharp as anyone.
“We hadn’t played at all this week and after Thursday’s Statesville game we won’t play again until Thursday of next week,” Cauble explained. “We knew we going to use a lot of pitchers, and all of them threw well. We’d like to give the sophomores (Laws and Atwell) more work, but they understand we’ve got three seniors doing the job.”
Davie didn’t hammer the ball, with the exception of the loud double Matt Vernon walloped to start the fourth.
Davie scored in the first inning on a double-play grounder off Randall’s bat. Carson second baseman Austin McNeill made a good play, tagging the runner, then firing to first to nip Randall.
In the second, Davie turned two singles, a walk, two fielder’s choices and passed ball into two runs to lead 3-0.
“We’ve been swinging it OK all year and pitching it great,” Herndon said. “We’ve got quality players. We’ve just got to take care of the little things better. Today, we did.”
Ryan Foster, a UNC Wilmington signee who is Davie’s other top-notch starting pitcher, knocked in a run in the fifth with a single and drove in another in the sixth with a bases-loaded bounceout.
Will Beeson, who was feisty, also knocked in two. The catcher had RBI singles in the second and fourth.
Phenomenal at-bats against Laws in the sixth by Will Beeson and leadoff man Nick Boswell told the story.
Beeson fouled off a half-dozen offerings before Laws, probably tired of seeing him, finally hit him with a pitch.
Boswell was down in the count 0-2 but was able to take a tough breaking ball that most high school players would’ve struck out on. Then he took a 1-2 pitch that was an inch or two low. Eventually, he worked a walk, and Davie scratched out another run.
“I thought we really battled at the plate today, and that made the difference,” Herndon said. “Guys kept battling when they were down in the count. We got on base, and we were able to scratch out runs. Carson’s good, but we scored in all but two innings.”
Dylan Carpenter had half of Carson’s four hits. Scottie Hinson and Josh Martin had the others.
“Against that pitcher, I choked up, took short swings and put it in play,” Carpenter said. “We hit it OK. We just hit a lot of balls that went to ’em.”

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