WHS knocks out Mavs, 2-1
Two runs in the top of the sixth inning pushed Weddington High's baseball team to a 2-1 victory over Marvin Ridge and on to the 3A state semifinals.
For the third time this season, Warriors (21-9) junior pitcher Landon Kay kept the Marvin Ridge (26-4) bats in check.
The Southern Carolina Conference archrivals were playing for the fifth time this season, and the Mavs took the series 3-2.
However, Tuesday's victory is the most significant as it keeps the Warriors' goal of repeating as 3A state champions alive and well.
"Just the fact of knowing that they are the biggest rival gets that little extra adrenaline going in you," Kay said. "I don't try too hard. I just go out and do what I do, try to throw strikes and let my defense play behind me. It works out."
Kay pitched five innings of three-hit baseball for the Warriors. Kay was in line for the loss, though, as he gave up his first and only run of the season to the Mavericks in the first inning.
Derek Smith hit a two-out single for the Mavericks in the top of the first and moved over to third on two wild pitches by Kay.
Max Wotell drew a walk and Smith scored on a high throw back from second for a 1-0 lead.
The Mavericks couldn't muster much offense after that, with Kay settling into a comfort zone despite the high stakes.
"There's a little bit of pressure but I use it to my advantage," Kay said. "I try to use it in a positive way."
Kay gave up one hit in the top of the second but was able to get the final 10 batters he faced in a 66-pitch performance that included five strikeouts.
"Knowing my offense was going to come through for me ... they always have my back," Kay said. "The team always has my back. I just had to keep my composure, keep my poker face and keep throwing strikes."
The Warriors' offense came through in the sixth.
Bostic led off the top of the sixth by reaching on an error, and Jeremy Schellhorn also reached after getting hit by a pitch..
A walk to Sean Collins loaded the bases and ended the night for Mavericks starter Zach Kuchmaner.
The Mavericks brought in Wotell but Davis Norred was up to the challenge, lofting a 2-2 pitch into right field for a game-tying single that allowed Bostic to cross the plate.
The tie-breaking run was the result of a wild-pitch.
"Playing Marvin Ridge is a dog fight every time out. That's a great baseball team over there," Warriors coach Travis Poole said. "They have nothing to hold their heads down about, they had an unbelievable year. This game is extremely humbling. You can be top of the world today and tomorrow not be as good. We just have to enjoy this one and look to our next opponent."
Poole put Schellhorn on the mound in the sixth and he recorded a 1-2-3 inning.
"I stay mentally prepared,"said Schellhorn of relieving. "That is all you can do really."
Schellhorn made it two-thirds of the way through the seventh with a fly out to right, a single by Wotell, a ground out and a walk ending his stay.
Poole then brought in junior ace Sean Collins, who pitched a complete game against Charlotte Catholic on Friday.
Collins got Vic Kuchmaner to fly out to left for the final out and the save.
"(Schellhorn) was ready to go. We needed to get him some work in," Poole said. "Sean closed it down, today was a day of work for him anyway. I just needed one inning from him. Sean is a competitor, they all are. These guys compete."
The Warriors move on to face Hickory, the top seed out of the Northwestern Conference starting Thursday.
"It's pretty surreal to be back there to be honest," Schellhorn said of being in the semis. "We have to play clean and hit the ball like we've been doing and we should be all right."
The Warriors have reached the semifinal with back-to-back one-run wins.
"I told them to execute and it was going to be close in the end," Poole said. "We just had to be there. We had to make a play here a play there, get a pitch here a pitch there and that's what this game is all about at this time of year."