Warriors win back-to-back state titles
With the pitching arms exhausted, Weddington High had to out-offense Conley in Game 3 of the 3A state championship on Saturday.
The two teams combined for 35 hits in the tie-breaker game, and when the dust settled the Warriors emerged as state champions for the second year in a row with a 17-14 victory.
Weddington built a 17-7 lead before holding off a final rally — both teams scored seven runs in the seventh.
For the second year in a row, Weddington didn't win the Southern Conference regular-season title or the league tournament.
But in the playoffs, "the bulldog comes out" in the Warriors, as first baseman Jeremy Schellhorn once called it.
Weddington needed all three games to eliminate Hickory in the state semifinals, and had to rally from a 6-0 deficit in Game 2 to keep the series alive.
Junior shortstop Daniel Calabretta was voted MVP of the 3A state finals.
Calabretta, a Duke commit, was 4-for-4 and hit for the cycle in Game 3. He reached base all six times, getting hit by a pitch and taking a walk, and also had two stolen bases while scoring four runs.
Calabretta had a two-run homer and a RBI triple, while teammate Alex Bostic also had a two-run homer — his Union County-best 12th of the season.
Lefty Tyler Penner, a freshman, came on in relief of starter Josh Islam and earned the win.
Islam went 2 2/3 innings and allowed five runs, while Penner went 3 1/3 to get the win.
Conley got to Penner with five hits in the seventh, and scored seven runs in the inning but it wasn't enough.
Senior Chris Simpson was 2-for-4 with a double and three RBI while drawing an intentional walk. Junior Jeff Welch was 4-for-5 including a three-RBI double in the seventh.
WHS junior catcher Jake Ferry went 2-for-5 with two RBI.
The Warriors finish 2013 with a 25-11 record after going 28-6 in 2012.
WHS is the first team in Union County history to win back-to-back state championships in baseball.
UC now has six state titles in baseball, including three in the last 12 months. Piedmont won the 2A state title on Saturday, and also won the state in 1984.
Sun Valley won the county's first-ever state baseball title by sweeping Dixon (7-0, 8-1) in 1977 in the 2A division.
Piedmont's 1984 team needed just two games to beat East Carteret (4-1, 12-4) in the 2A state title series.
Forest Hills won the 3A state baseball championship in 1997, also with a sweep (over Wilson Beddingtonfield 3-1, 8-2).
Weddington's 2013 team is the first from the county to require a third game to win the state title.
The 2012 Warriors downed Aycock 5-3 and 4-2.