18th Ranked Hickory Ridge Stuns Third Ranked Northwest Guilford in Second Round of 4A Playoffs – Wyatt Smith Reporting
The third-ranked Northwest Guilford Vikings dropped their second round NCHSAA 4-A game to the 18th ranked Hickory Ridge Ragin’ Bulls by a final score of 7-5 of Friday night at Sandy Gann Stadium in Greensboro.
Junior Robert Ceglie of the Ragin’ Bulls threw a complete game and was able to keep his team in the game.
The Vikings opened the scoring and put up three runs in the second inning, making a statement that they came to play.
Hickory Ridge responded with one run in the third. It became a pitcher’s duel following that run by the Ragin’ Bulls, especially so when Northwest starter Ethan Blanchard got out of a bases-loaded no-outs jam in the top of the fourth inning without surrendering a run.
Neither team scored until the fifth inning when Vikings Catcher Joey Rezek hit a long home run to right field. The Vikings were riding high after the Rezek bomb, but the air would soon be let out of that balloon.
In the next half inning, things fell apart for the Vikings, and they allowed 6 runs, 4 earned, and watched the score go from the Vikings up 4-1, to being down 7-4.
The Vikings responded with a run in the seventh, but were unable to overcome the deficit they found themselves in after giving up 6 runs in the top of the six and making two errors.
Hickory Ridge head coach Branden Knapp was optimistic from what he was seeing from his team.
“We knew we had chances,” Knapp said. “I preached to the guys– no strikeouts, put the ball in play, see what happens and they made a couple of mistakes. We capitalized on it.”
Knapp spoke well of the performance he got on the mound from Robert Ceglie and the great defense that the Bulls played behind Ceglie.
“Robbie did an amazing job,” he said. “That’s what we asked him today, just throw strikes– we’re not going to try to strike guys out. We talked to the defense and told them that they were going to have to make 21 outs in the field. I think Robbie only struck out one or two and we played great defense in the field. So it was just like we planned.”
On the other side, a not so happy Sonny Gann thought the difference was that his team didn’t buy into the team mentality.
“I think in an overall generality they were 100% bought in to Hickory Ridge baseball and were a team,” Gann said. “I thought we had overcome some things year, and we haven’t. You have to be 100% for the team and sacrifice for the team, and not everybody is on board with that. Once you get to playoff time it shows. I think that’s the whole story of the game. I feel so sorry for Landon (Frye) at third base who made an error in the fifth. A ball just came up on him and it happened.”
There will be people, Gann said, who think Northwest underachieved this year, but from his standpoint, “I think we overachieved this year.”
“There’s a lot of people around who thought we should go deep in the playoffs, but truth be known, with the adversity we went through — I think when you can win 18 games and conference championship with all those things that happened, something was done right this year.”
The coach emphasized that the loss still hurt.
“It stings, Gann said. “It stings because you know that you had the personnel to make a run but we just didn’t have everybody on board. We just didn’t have everybody on board.”
WP: Robert Ceglie- 7IP, 5R, 7H, 2BB, 1K, 1HBP
LP: Gavin Mortenson- 1.2IP, 4R, 2ER, 1K, 0BB
HICKORY RIDGE OFFENSIVE STATS:
Joey Tudors: 3-4
Nick LaGarde: 2-4, 2R
Nolan DeVois: 3-4, R
NORTHWEST GUILFORD OFFENSIVE STATS:
Gavin Mortenson: 2-4, R
Joey Rezek: 1-4 HR, R
Ethan Blanchard: 2-3, R, RBI