Written by Staff Reports
Tuesday, 28 May 2013 13:11
As the old boxing cliche goes, never let a champion back on his feet once you've knocked him down. Well, the Hickory High baseball team found that out
first hand Monday night as Weddington, the defending Class 3A state champion, bounced back from a 1-0 deficit and defeated Hickory 8-5 Monday night at Washam Field in Hickory to win the North Carolina High School Athletic Association Class 3A western title two games to one.
Weddington (23-10) will play Greenville-Conley (27-3), the eastern champion, in the state championship series this weekend in the Raleigh area. That best-of-three series, including dates, times and locations will be set by the North Carolina High School Athletic Association later this week.
For Hickory (18-12) a great playoff run came to an end as head coach David Craft said good-bye to eight talented seniors. And it was quite a run by a Hickory team that struggled during the regular season and lost to Fred T. Foard in the opening round of the Northwestern 3A/4A Conference Tournament.
But the Red Tornadoes really let the series slip away on Saturday. Hickory blew a 6-0 lead in game two against the Warriors and lost 8-7 in eight innings. Weddington carried that momentum into Monday night's game and the Warriors built a 4-0 lead in the first inning. Losing pitcher Nick Guarino coughed up seven earned runs in two innings of work.
But despite the early deficit, the Red Tornadoes eventually chipped away and marched their way back into the game. A two-run single by Adam Baker in the bottom of the first made it, 4-2.
But a great defensive play by right fielder Sean Collins in the bottom of the fifth inning with runners at first and second squelched a Hickory rally and basically put the game away.
Trailing 8-2, the Red Tornadoes tallied three times in the fifth and chased winning pitcher Landon Kay. Davis Hanvey greeted relief pitcher Josh Islam with a shot to right-center field. But Collins made the play of the game as he robbed Hanvey of extra bases. That diving catch ended the inning and saved the game for Weddington.
Coan McAlpine had a two-run double in the fifth for Hickory; Baker finished with three RBI; the Red Tornadoes pounded out ten hits in the loss. The loss also leaves Hickory coach David Craft three hits shy of 400 career wins.