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Dragons take care of business


Central Davidson's Trevor Nanney steals second base as West Davidson second baseman Matt Berrier dives out to catch a wide throw on the play during their game Tuesday afternoon at Thomasville's Finch Field. (Photo by Donnie Roberts/The Dispatch)


THOMASVILLE | Central Davidson baseball coach Matt Parsons was hoping for the element of surprise Tuesday afternoon.

It was the same old, same old for West Davidson.

Jason Shull, who had pitched two innings all season, started on the mound for the Spartans. But West turned five hits and an error into four runs in the second inning, and the top-seeded Dragons beat No. 4 Central 6-1 in the Central Carolina Conference tournament semifinals at Finch Field. West will face Salisbury, a 4-3 winner over East Davidson in the other semifinal, at 7 p.m. Thursday in Thomasville.

West coach Jerry Walser has confidence in his batting lineup, regardless of who is on the mound. “The best way to be a good offensive club is to hit all the way down the lineup,” Walser said.

“Most 2-A baseball teams have four, maybe five good hitters. I think we’re fortunate enough to have maybe more than nine.

“Then you can get an inning started at any point in the lineup, and that’s huge.”

Shull pitched his way out of trouble in the first inning, but he wasn’t so fortunate in the second. Koby Martin and Justin Freeman, the sixth and seventh hitters in the West lineup, reached on base hits, and Parsons lifted Shull in favor of Dillon Hampton.

The first-year Central coach was hoping some unconventional wisdom would confuse the Dragons. “They’ve only seen every team’s best, so we thought maybe they’d struggle seeing some offspeed,” Parsons said.

“Shull started off strong, got some outs. And our goal was just to see how far he could go.”

Hampton walked the first batter he faced, Zach Queen, then Jake Walser lofted a deep fly ball near the wall in left field. Josh Moore slipped on the incline in the outfield, so Martin came in with the game’s first run. Matt Berrier followed with a sacrifice fly to left with the bases loaded, and all three runners tagged up. Andrew Everhart took the throw from the outfield, then tried to nail Walser at second — but his throw got away from Shull, and that allowed Queen to come all the way around and make it 3-0. Justin Cecil then delivered an RBI groundout, and the Dragons had total control.

That was more than enough for Freeman, who settled in and wiggled out of a bases-loaded jam in the fourth and carried a four-hitter into the sixth. Central finally got on the board in the top of the sixth when Trevor Nanney blooped a single to left, moved up two bases an Freeman’s errant pickoff throw to first then scored on John Hanes’

sacrifice fly.

By then, the Dragons had tacked on an insurance run in the fourth on Tyler Hudson’s RBI single. Hudson followed that up with a run-scoring single into right field for the final margin.

That sent the Dragons into the tournament finals Thursday. Even though West seemingly has nothing to play for, with the No. 1 seed for the 2-A playoffs locked up, Walser didn’t leave any doubt about his goals.

“I say this all the time, they’re gonna give a trophy,” he said. “If they’re gonna give a trophy, I want to win it.

“I played four years of high school baseball and I never got a trophy.

So any time we can do that, and again, prepare ourselves for the state playoffs. And we’ve set on our best pitcher (Jake Walser) for the championship, so that ought to be an indication right there.”

Hudson went 3-for-3 for the Dragons and drove in two runs, and Freeman had two hits. Freeman gave up six hits, walked one and struck out two.

Nanney had three of the six Central hits.



Jason Queen can be reached at 249-3981, ext. 220 or jason.queen@the-dispatch.com.