Late Comeback in game 2 wins 4A State Championship for North Davidson
By: Evan Moesta
North Davidson completed a two game series sweep of Green Hope High School in the NCHSAA 4A Baseball State Championship at Five County Stadium in Zebulon, NC. Down 2-0 heading to their final at-bat in the top of the seventh inning, the Black Knights scored five unearned runs to clinch the 5-2 victory.
Joe Butts started the improbable comeback for the Black Knights with a single to centerfield to start the top of the seventh. Corey Joyce was hit in the side by a Chris Joyner offering, then Jed Bryant lofted a flyball to shallow right field that was dropped after Green Hope second baseman Connor Knapp bumped into right fielder Joseph Nunn who was closing in on making the catch. The error loaded the bases for North Davidson with nobody out, and it forced head coach Mike Miragliuolo to make a visit to the mound for the first time on Saturday.
Chris Joyner came out of the visit by issuing a bases loaded walk to freshman pinch hitter Jake Brown to score a run, and cut the Falcon lead to 2-1. Black Knight leadoff hitter EP Reese was due up next, and he tapped a swinging bunt back to the mound. In desperation, Joyner scooped the ball and launched an errant throw home to score two runs. Reese moved to second base on the back end of the play after giving his team a 3-2 lead.
North Davidson shortstop Jackson Meadows grounded into a fielders choice to score Brown and make it 4-2, then Michael Johnson poked a two out RBI single to the outfield to put the Western Regional Champions ahead 5-2.
Green Hope cruised through the opening six innings behind the left arm of their ace pitcher Chris Joyner. The senior went six-plus innings pitched, allowing five runs (all unearned in the seventh) on four hits, three walks, and seven strikeouts. Joyner worked around a ground rule double in the first, then retired the Black Knights in order in the second inning. He had his strikeout pitch going in inning number three when he sent both Nick Tiller, and fellow UNC-Wilmington baseball commit Jackson Meadows back to the dugout swinging at strike three. Joyner cruised through innings four, five, and six with only one hit, and one walk allowed.
After being shutout through the first eight innings of this weekend’s series, Green Hope finally broke the ice in the bottom of the second inning. Joesph Nunn shot a ground ball into left field for a one out knock, then Trevor Losito peppered the ball to the wall in dead center field for an RBI triple. Losito’s second inning three bagger was the Falcons second in as many innings as Drew Hegeman was able to motor to third base on a first inning hit to right. Freshman Kohl Abrams lofted a sacrifice fly to the outfield to score Losito for the second out of the second giving Green Hope a 2-0 lead.
North Davidson also called upon a southpaw to toe the slab in game two as Landon Michael took the hill to start for the Black Knights. After allowing the two runs to score in the second, Michael settled in to pitch four and two-thirds innings, allowing two earned runs on five hits, three walks, and two strikeouts. The final hit allowed by Landon Michael on Saturday afternoon came to Trevor Losito, who once more shot a ball to the base of the wall in centerfield for a triple. Half of Green Hope’s hits were of the three base variety as two runs came home on six hits, and a North Davidson error.
Right-hander Nick Borgen closed out the ballgame for North Davidson with two and a third innings of perfect relief. He was credited as the winning pitcher, Chris Joyner was credited with the loss for Green Hope. Jordan Montgomery got the final three outs of the seventh for the Falcons with only one hit allowed.
North Davidson finishes the season 30-2, and they take home their first 4A State Championship in school history. This year’s appearance was the first for North Davidson since 1985. The Black Knights won back-to-back 2A titles in 1966, and 1967. Green Hope wraps up their season with a 25-7 record, and they tied for first place in the SWAC conference for the regular season title. 2016 is the first 4A Baseball State Championship appearance in the history of Green Hope High School. Jackson Meadows of North Davidson was honored as the Most Valuable Player of the series.