Crusaders use big inning to top Enloe
For four innings of Grace Christian’s baseball game Friday evening, it was the same story as the Crusaders’ 6-0 loss to Southern Lee in Thursday’s first round of the Chatlee Boat and Marine Easter Invitational.
While the sun was out and it was a good 25 degrees warmer, the Crusader offense was still cool, mainly in the form of leaving runners on base.
Trailing 4-1 headed to the fifth, the Crusaders flipped the switch in a big way. With back-to-back doubles slugged by Shane Farnsworth and Micah Welborn starting the charge, Grace Christian piled up six runs to take the lead and go on to an 8-5 win over NCHSAA 4A opponent Enloe (2-9).
The Crusaders (6-3) move on in the tourney to face O’Neal today at 9 a.m. in the first of five games to be hosted at Union Pines. The championship game of the tourney is slated for 7 p.m. tonight.
Enloe got the lead in the first inning. Starting with second-spot hitter Austin King, the Eagles strung together three singles to load the bases with one out. After Micah Welborn got a strikeout, a dropped pop-up between first baseman Aaron Ayers and Welborn along the first-base line allowed one run in instead of ending the frame. Avery Hill’s swinging bunt single was good for an RBI and a 2-0 Enloe lead.
The Crusaders got on the board in the top of the second. Sam Holt walked to start the inning and eventually was knocked in from third on a single by Farnsworth.
The Crusaders left six runners on through the first four innings though and showed little sign of power at the plate until Farnsworth belted a shot to deep left field, then Welborn drove an RBI double to the gap in left-center.
A fielder’s choice grounder moved Welborn up a bag and he scored on a passed ball. The Crusaders kept the line moving with Montgomery Kirby reaching on an error, then three straight walks. The walk to Nathan Holt allowed Kirby to walk home and tied the game. Grace Christian capitalized on 10 walks from three Eagle pitchers on the night.
One more key hit gave Grace the lead. Ninth-place hitter Jonathan Husk dropped a looper over the drawn-in Eagle first baseman for two RBI and a 6-4 Crusader lead. Holt sprinting in on a wild pitch made it 7-4.
Grace added a couple more hits and a run in the sixth. Micah Welborn singled to lead off the inning. With the bases loaded and one down, Sam Holt’s sacrifice fly to center plated Welborn.
Micah Welborn worked the first 5.1 innings to get the win. Caleb Welborn moved from shortstop to pitcher to put down an Eagle threat in the bottom of the sixth. He pitched the last 1.2 innings.
Enloe lost 12-7 to Massaponax (Va.) earlier at Southern Lee on Friday. Enloe will play O’Neal at 11 a.m. today at Union Pines.
Farnswoth, Micah Welborn and Husk had two hits each for the Crusaders. Sam Holt walked twice, had a sacrifice fly and scored twice.
Following the Chatlee tournament, the Crusaders return to Carolina Christian Conference play Tuesday with a home date against Cape Fear Christian.