On a Heater: Baseball riding big winning streak into states


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Baseball team performing pregame ritual with starter Greyson Jones pictured at the top

Holden Schmidt, Sports Writer

The baseball team claimed their crown as back to back Central Piedmont Conference (CPC) Tournament champions this past Thursday. The Titans have now amassed a seven game winning streak as they head into state playoffs. However, things were not always looking great for the team this season. When a six inning mercy rule 12-2 defeat earlier in the season at Davie dropped them to a record of 11-8, they reached a critical moment that would decide the future of their season.
“I think after we lost at Davie was the turning point. We were really disappointed in how we played that game and after the game the coaching staff challenged the team. They could just throw in the towel for the remainder of the season or get back to work and turn this thing around,” head coach Brad Bullard said.
The team lived up to the coaches’ challenge, and a big reason for their recent winning streak has been thanks to some excellent pitching.
“Our pitching staff has been phenomenal the last month. They have stepped up big time and given us a chance to win every night,” Bullard said.
The spearfront of the turnaround has been the on and off field excellence of senior Harrison Lewis, the ace of the rotation and one of the team’s best hitters, who is committed to continue his baseball career at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.
“It’s really hard to articulate just how important Harrison is to this team. He has truly carried the load for this team, both pitching and hitting, and has been an amazing leader for our young group. It is so nice to be able to just tell Harrison what our pitchers need to do and he goes down there and works with them. His maturity and leadership this season have been top notch,” Bullard said.
The players aren’t the only ones trying their best to right the ship, as the coaching staff has put in work to make changes as well. They implemented something of an offensive game plan, focused around simplifying their approach and trying to scratch across runs at every opportunity.
“We have started playing more small ball. Just trying to advance runners from base to base, steal bases and most importantly be smarter running the bases. We have also really focused on cutting down our strikes from the first half of the season and competing in two strike counts,” Bullard said.
With all the changes they made throughout, the Titans closed the regular season with a massive sweep of East Forsyth, who entered the series as the No. 1 ranked team in the state.
“East Forsyth is a tremendous team with a lot of talent and experience. For us to be able to sweep them really gave our guys a lot of confidence. Those two wins were huge leading into the CPC Tournament,” Bullard said.
The CPC tournament was shortened due to inclement weather delaying the end of the regular season and all games were held at Davie County High School. In the first round the No. 3 seeded Titans took on No. 2 Reagan, and following a huge four run rally in the top of the seventh inning, Lewis finished off a complete game to claim a 5-4 victory. With Lewis having thrown the day before, and the team’s second starter, junior Jack Vest, having thrown on Monday, freshman Greyson Jones was called upon to make the start in the conference championship game. Jones, a mid-season callup from JV, was both excited and nervous to make his first career start in such a big moment.
“I was a little nervous to start my first game in the championship, but it was really cool. I know some of the Davie players and being able to win that game was awesome, especially with all the celebrating we did as a team afterwards.
The championship game became a rubber match for the season series against Davie, as the No. 4 War Eagles sprung the first round upset on No. 1 East Forsyth. The game was close the whole way, with Jones stepping up in the big moment and keeping the team in it by allowing four runs over six innings. After Davie knotted things up at 4-4 in the top of the 6th, freshman catcher and Wake Forest commit Will Holden hit a lead off double in the bottom of the inning. Junior Hayden Magaha then pinch ran for Holden and eventually came around to score the go-ahead run, which would allow junior Logan Rodriguez to close out the game in the 7th, earning the Titans a 5-4 victory and the conference championship trophy.
“Winning the CPC tournament is always an awesome feeling. Having to play East in a make up game on Monday, then turn around and play Reagan on Wednesday, and Davie for the championship on Thursday was a grind. It was a stressful but enjoyable week, and playing those three big games leading into the state playoffs is helpful for us,” Bullard said.
For the eight seniors on the team, heading into the state playoffs they know it will be their last time donning the green and gold. They are going to do everything they can to lead this team on a deep run for their final time out.
“Our goal is to win it all. We are going to give it everything we got and leave it all out there,” Lewis said.
In the state playoffs, the Titans are seeded as the No. 14 team and will play No. 19 Charlotte Catholic in the first round tomorrow night at 6 p.m. This team is riding on a massive wave of momentum, but none of that matters now, as from here on out each game could be their last.
“Everyone is back to 0-0 now. Records and regular seasons and conference tournaments don’t matter at this point. You have to come out and be ready to compete each and every night,” Bullard said.
One thing that this team has proven throughout the season is that they’re never done fighting. They have worked to come back from their lowest moments and never stopped believing in each other and their ability to win as a team. That type of toughness and resilience are traits emblematic of championship teams. Everything they have done and been through this season has brought them this opportunity for greatness; now it is up to them to seize the moment.