NEWBERRY — Rock, chalk, JHawk! Mid-Carolina High School baseball fans might have been thinking about March athletics Thursday night but not the Kansas Jayhawks.
Justin Hawkins, known by his MCHS teammates as JHawk, had a career night against the Newberry High School Bulldogs in varsity baseball action. His steady glove and hot bat were the catalyst for Mid-Carolina to get ahead of Newberry pitcher Ryne Huggins in a game coaches figured would be a low scoring affair.
Hawkins dispelled that notion in the opening frame when he took the first Ryne Huggins pitch he saw on the night deep to right center field for a two RBI home run.
In addition to solid defense at shortstop, later in the game, Hawkins added two singles and worked a walk to help MCHS keep the offense clicking in an 11-2 region win over the rival Bulldogs.
MCHS manufactured runs at times and stretched the lead to 8-0.
“I expected with the talent on the mound, for it to be a low scoring affair. However, you have to throw out convention when dealing with a rivalry,” MCHS Head Coach Daniel Gregory said, of the contest.
MCHS hitters Justin Hawkins, Josh Haney, Ryan Stoudemire, and Mack Flemon continued to swing hot bats.
Lead-off hitter Danton Hyman set the table by walking twice and getting a single. Shawn Sexton had a single and a two RBI triple.
Mack Flemon hit two singles, was walked and knocked in two teammates.
“M-C is a very good, well-coached team who came out ready to play. With Hyman, at the top of the order and Hawkins and Stoudemire in the middle, they have a dangerous line up,” NHS Coach Lindsey Stribble said.
NHS players kept battling and finally scratched out a few runs in the fifth.
Four straight Bulldogs reached base that inning with singles by Hercules Etheredge, Kevis Burton and Kinard. Between these singles, Jared Harmon was walked.
Kinard’s single scored Etheridge, while Burton scored on a wild pitch during Alec Blackmon’s at bat.
Etheredge led the Bulldogs with two singles.
The Bulldogs struggled at the plate and were unable to keep the game close to try and pull out a win in the later innings. Stribble said prior to the first pitch that NHS needed to get players at the top of the order on base so they could make something happen but there was too much Josh Haney for that.
Mixing a full complement of his breaking pitches and his fastball, Haney pitched a complete game to pick up the 11-2 win.
The loss went to NHS sophomore southpaw Ryne Huggins.
MCHS Coach Daniel Gregory said Haney is great at throwing strikes and with locating several pitches.
He changed speeds often and, for the most part, kept the ball off the barrel of the Bulldog bats.
Gregory was proud of the intensity on both sides and the way the players approached the game.
“This (Rebels) team has worked very hard up until this point to get better on and off the field. I can’t say enough how proud I am of the workman’s attitude that each has adopted every day and overall none of them care who gets the glory as long as it benefits the team,” he said.
Even though struggles at the plate have kept NHS from living up to its preseason top 10 billing to this point, Gregory expects the Bulldogs to pull things together.
“With Newberry, we know we are going to get a group of guys that scrap and do things the right way. Whoever happens to be on the mound for them or at the plate will compete because that is what they do best,” Gregory said.
MCHS JV Baseball wins
The MCHS JV Baseball team began the afternoon in winning fashion, rallying from a 4-2 deficit to defeat the JV Bulldogs 8-4.
Starter Trey Huber picked up the win for Rebels. Corey Stone closed out the game, pitching the final two innings.
Trey Kinard took the loss for Newberry.
MCHS struck first as Cade Ruff and Drew Cromer hit consecutive singles. Malik Pearson hit a triple to center that brought home Ruff and Cromer and the Rebels led 2-0.
Newberry tied it at two in the bottom of the first when Jamey Busby, who was hit by a pitch, scored as Kinard was being tagged out at first.
Chris Wadsworth walked and then scored on a wild pitch to Bailey Clark.
Newberry then added a runs in the third and fourth to take a 4-2 lead.
The Rebels, though, scored three times in the fourth inning.
An infield error allowed Phillip Taylor and Marshall Horne both score after each player led off the inning with a single.
Once they took the 5-4 lead, MCHS never trailed again.
• The MCHS JV team had a balanced attack with their nine hits spread among eight batters.
• Horne led the Rebels with two singles.
• Pearson’s triple was the only extra base hit in the game.
• Busby and Adam Kesler each got a hit for Newberry.