Terry Sanford edges Cavs for CFVC season title
It wasn't as large a comeback as what Southern Lee handed Terry Sanford the first time the two squads met this baseball season, but the host Bulldogs (18-5, 11-1) got the tying run in the sixth inning and won 4-3 in eight innings to defeat the Cavaliers (17-7, 9-3) in a regular-season finale for the Cape Fear Valley Conference season championship Saturday afternoon.
Back in March, Southern Lee scored six runs with two outs in the home half of the seventh to force an extra inning, then beat Terry Sanford 10-9.
That loss was the only Bulldog setback in their inaugural campaign through the CFVC.
The Cavaliers, who would've claimed the season crown had they swept Terry Sanford, led three times by a single run but 15 Cavaliers left on base, including three innings ending with the bases loaded, kept Southern Lee from pulling away.
Facing Bulldog ace Joe Ingle, though he lasted only until the Cavalier fourth, the Cavs got a run, but could've come away with more, in the first.
Christian Wenger, with a shot into center, and Turtle Windish, putting down a bunt, singled to start the game. Ethan Helsman walked, as did Maxx Taylor for an RBI with one out.
Ingle and the Bulldogs stopped the rally there. Going against Wenger, Southern Lee's senior ace, the Bulldog third-place hitter, Trey Davis, doubled in leadoff man Andrew Henrickson quickly making it 1-1 through an inning.
In the Cavalier third, Helsman and Cullen Boyette drew walks leading to Taylor singling into left field. Chris McLean, running for Helsman, came around from second and scored thanks partly to a bobble in the outfield.
The Bulldogs threatened in their third, getting runners on the corners with two outs. Ingle, the Bulldog clean-up hitter, nailed a shot to the gap in left-center field only for left fielder Ryan Holmes to make a diving catch likely saving two Bulldog runs.
Terry Sanford tied the game in the fourth though. Jack Degroff singled to start the inning, moved around thanks to a sacrifice bunt and wild pitch, then scored on a Cavalier error on a grounder by Jaysen Lagusis.
Now with Henrickson on the mound for the Bulldogs, the Cavs edged ahead again in the sixth. With two outs, Helsman drove a fly which fell in the left-center gap for a double, scoring Owen Bond.
The Bulldogs got the run straight back. The Cavaliers thought they had the second out of the frame, and maybe could've quelled the threat, on a play at third. On Zach Wall's hit down the left field line, Joseph Riddle raced from first to third and beat the tag to get in safely, with one side disagreeing.
Nonetheless, the Cav infield had to play in and the next Bulldog up, Lagusis, hit a grounder to short which was enough to plate the tying run.
Holmes relieved Wenger starting the Bulldog seventh and the Cavs turned a double play to bring up the eighth inning. The Cavaliers loaded the bases with two outs in the eighth but couldn't get a go-ahead run.
The first two Bulldogs singled in the eighth, but with Holmes fielding a bunt and firing to third for an out, then a pop up to Cody Ellis at second, the Cavs were an out away from keeping the game going.
Holmes hit Lagusis with a pitch, then Chase Tew smashed a hard grounder into right field for the winning run.
Henrickson pitched the last 4.1 innings and got the win. He walked four and struck out six. The Bulldogs left eight on base.
Wenger went 3 for 3, with a walk and a hit-by-pitch, and scored two runs. Taylor was 2 for 4 with two RBI.
With the conference title, Terry Sanford will be a No. 1 seed in the NCHSAA state tournament and get a bye through one round of this week's CFVC Tournament.
Southern Lee finishes as the No. 2 seed and will host No. 7 Westover in a first-round game Monday night. The CFVC semifinals are scheduled for Tuesday and the final is set for Thursday.