Collins leading Warriors' resurgence
Weddington put forth one of its best offensive displays in years in last week’s three-game series against Sun Valley, and junior Sean Collins was in the middle of it all.
Collins belted a game-winning grand slam in Tuesday’s 11-7, 10-inning Warriors win, turning on the first pitch of his at-bat and setting off a raucous dugout celebration.
“It was unbelievable,” Collins said of his game-winner. “I didn’t even know what to think. I was thinking fastball, and he threw it belt high right down the middle. It put a lot of confidence in us.”
Apparently. Collins followed that up by hitting two home runs in the same inning in Thursday’s 19-2 Warriors win. One of those home runs was yet another grand slam.
Combine those efforts with Weddington’s 12-0 win Wednesday, and the Warriors scored 42 runs in three games and hit eight home runs — three from Collins, two from Chris Simpson and one each from Alex Bostic, Landon Kay and Jeff Welch. Bostic now has three homers on the year.
“We definitely struggled at beginning of the season, but it’s coming together quickly,” Collins said.
Weddington also got impressive outings from pitchers Josh Islam and Paul Brocklebank, who started and earned wins Wednesday and Thursday, respectively. It was a showcase of depth for the Warriors, who are still waiting for starters Bostic and Collins to return to the mound, along with closer Jeremy Schellhorn.
“We’re not worried,” Collin said. “Especially if we keep swinging it like we are. The pitchers are all doing fine.”
Parkwood’s program is comprised mainly of underclassmen. As evidenced by the top of its lineup in the Southern Carolina Conference-opening series against Marvin Ridge, the Rebels are counting on some of them to produce on the varsity team right away.
The Rebels have a pair of underclassmen at the top of their lineup in freshman leadoff batter Scout McFalls and sophomore infielder Jeremy Parker.
McFalls is one of two freshmen on the varsity team (JT Dunn is the other), and he looked the part of a player who can contribute despite an 0-for-3 effort Wednesday. McFalls showed a unique blend of power and speed, driving a third-inning pitch to the wall in center field in what at first looked like a home run, then attempting to bunt to get on base in the sixth inning and nearly beating out the throw.
“Scout has some of the best baseball instincts that we have,” Parkwood coach Andrew Starnes said. “He’s quick, he’s got a good swing. He finds a way to get on base, and he’s still young and learning.”
Around the league
Three teams are tied for first in the SCC following the first wave of three-game series.
Those three teams — Marvin Ridge, Weddington and Porter Ridge — could conceivably be in the same position after this week’s games, too, after the Mavericks play Sun Valley (2-6, 0-3), the Warriors play Anson County (0-8, 0-3) and the Pirates play Parkwood (1-5, 0-3).
• Marvin Ridge shortstop Derek Smith had multiple hits in every game against Parkwood last week, raising his average to .364. … Mavericks pitcher Jake Sagmoe has a spotless 0.00 ERA in 11 innings pitched, the second most on the team behind Zach Kuchmaner (19.2 innings pitched, 1.07 ERA). Sagmoe started and earned the win Friday against Parkwood, pitching five innings. … Marvin Ridge coach Mark Mennitt said he expects sophomore left-hander Max Wotell to make his scheduled start on Wednesday. Wotell did not start last week, but picked up an inning of relief work.
• The Pirates have already surpassed last season’s SCC win total after beating up on the Bearcats. Porter Ridge outscored Anson County 35-4, and plated 13 runs in the final two games. Junior Jerrick Robbins had two multi-hit games, including Friday’s 2-for-3 effort that included a double, a triple and two RBIs.
• Weddington’s 19-run effort in Thursday’s win against Sun Valley is more runs than Anson County has scored all year. The Bearcats have scored 17 runs in eight games and have lost five games by at least 10 runs.
“Playing Anson, you never want to take them too lightly, because you never know what could happen,” Collins said. “But you also have to know you’re a better team and shouldn’t have a problem winning.”
Southern Carolina Conference Standings
Marvin Ridge 9, Parkwood 0
Weddington 11, Sun Valley 7 (10 innings)
Porter Ridge 9, Anson County 1
Marvin Ridge 6, Parkwood 1
Weddington 12, Sun Valley 0 (5 innings)
Porter Ridge 13, Anson County 3 (6 innings)
Weddington 19, Sun Valley 2 (5 innings)
Porter Ridge 13, Anson County 0
Marvin Ridge 11, Parkwood 1