Knights wallop Watauga
Wed. March 05, 2014 at 8:20 p.m. | By Mike Duprez
North Davidson pitcher Josh Roberson delivers a pitch to a Watauga batter during their game Wednesday afternoon. (Photo by Donnie Roberts/The Dispatch)
WELCOME | North Davidson would probably like to bottle up the baseball game it played on Wednesday against Watauga and use the ingredients again.
Josh Roberson came within two outs of a no-hitter, freshman Austin Beck hit a mammoth three-run homer and E.P. Reese hammered a two-run homer as the Black Knights rolled to a 7-0 win.
“It’s exciting,” Beck said. “First home run for both of us in our high school careers. It was good. It was good to get the win, too.”
North improved to 1-1 on the young season while Watauga fell to 2-1.
“They’re a good team,” said North coach Mike Meadows. “They got two big wins against A.C. Reynolds and Alexander Central. I don’t think today is indicative of the way they normally play.”
There was sure plenty to like about the Black Knights, who bounced back from last Friday’s season-opening 7-2 loss to Leesville Road.
Roberson was nothing short of brilliant. The lanky right-hander, who has signed with UNC-Wilmington, struck out 10 and walked four. Roberson effectively mixed a live fastball, curve and changeup, throwing all his pitches effectively, even when behind in the count. He came about as close to a no-hitter as one could get without finishing it off. With one out in the top of the seventh, Watauga catcher Steadman Sauls slapped Roberson’s 100th pitch of the game up the middle. The ball skidded off second baseman Khylil Miller’s outstretched glove into shallow center field and was ruled a hit.
“I left him in there longer than I really wanted to,” Meadows said. “But a kid doesn’t get a chance to throw a no-hitter very often. I had made up my mind that was going to be his last batter. I thought we could get a double play and get out of it but we didn’t make the play.”
Jackson Meadows, the coach’s son, came on with runners on the corners and recorded the last two outs for the combined one-hitter.
Long before that, the game had been put out of reach due to the Knights’ power display and sloppy fielding by the Pioneers on several bunts.
After being retired in order in the first by Watauga right-hander Hunter Isaacs, the Knights got down to business in the second. Preston Blake, who was 2-for-3, led off with a line drive double. Designated hitter Dylan Holmes worked an eight-pitch at-bat and singled to bring home Blake. Cole Beeker followed with a single and Jackson Meadows moved them to second and third on a popped up bunt that was nearly caught by a diving Sauls.
Nobody could have come within a country mile of catching the next ball that was struck.
Beck turned on an 0-1 pitch and blasted it off the roof of North’s indoor batting facility beyond the left-field fence, giving the Knights a 4-0 lead.
“I just stayed inside the ball,” Beck said. “It felt good. It came off the bat really good.”
Beck, who coach Meadows said is the fastest player on the team, showed off another part of his game by dropping down a sacrifice bunt in the bottom of the fourth. With Beck blazing down the line, Isaacs fielded the ball and made an errant throw. That allowed Jackson Meadows, who had singled, to score all the way from first and extend North’s lead to 5-0.
“They helped us out a little bit by throwing away bunts,” coach Meadows said. “We’ve got some team speed and if we put the ball on the ground, that puts pressure on them.”
Reese, a sophomore who has committed to N.C. State, then joined in on the long ball fun by walloping a line drive shot over the fence in right center for what turned out to be the final two runs of the game.
“It happened so fast,” said Reese, who was 2-for-4. “I don’t know what to say. It was just amazing. I knew I needed to get a sac fly to get the runner home from third. I just tried to hit it in the air. It just went. It took off.”
The Knights will host two-time defending 3-A independent school state champion Charlotte Christian at 6:30 p.m. Thursday.
Mike Duprez can be reached at 249-3981, ext. 218 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Mike on Twitter:@LexDispatch_md