South Caldwell trips Watauga baseball team
by Steve Behr Sports Editor
Watauga will go into the Northwestern Conference baseball tournament limping instead of with momentum.
South Caldwell pitcher Taylor Purvis saw to that.
Purvis kept Watauga's offense in check in a 6-2 victory over the Pioneers Friday. Watauga settled for three hits against Purvis, who struck out four and walked three.
Watauga closes out the regular season with an 8-12 overall record, 4-10 in the NWC. The Pioneers, seeded sixth in the eight-team NWC tournament play at Patton in the first round on Tuesday. The starting time has yet to be determined.
Watauga has lost four straight NWC games since beating Freedom 10-5 on April 11. The Pioneers won three straight games in the Tarboro Easter Classic, but two of those wins were against 1-A programs.
South Caldwell (17-3, 12-2) captured the NWC regular season championship after beating Fred T. Foard 3-0 on Thursday and Watauga one day later. South Caldwell hosts Freedom in the first round of the tournament.
Purvis ran into trouble in just one inning. Steadman Sauls reach base on an error and Jesse Illich singled in the third inning. Both ended up scoring runs, which cut South Caldwell's lead down to 3-2.
Purvis limited the rest of Watauga's offense to a single in the fifth inning from Sauls and a two of walks the rest of the game.
South Caldwell ended up getting all the runs it needed in the first inning of Watauga starter Matt Lambert. The first three South Caldwell batters walked and the first scored on a Brett Macchia single.
Two more run scored on a Watauga error, which gave the Spartans a 3-0 lead.
"We didn't throw strikes and we didn't play defense and you can't win like that," Watauga coach Pete Hardee said. "Fortunately for us, we still have a conference tournament, so it gives us a chance to continue to play. If we can throw strikes and play defense, we'll have a chance to do something in that tournament."
South Caldwell, which beat Watauga in Boone for the first time since 2011, scored two more runs in the fifth inning on an RBI double by Macchia, and on a wild pitch that Macchia scored on to give South Caldwell a 5-2 lead.
Blake Herman was hit by a pitch and scored on a fielder's choice in the sixth inning.
"We took advantage of it and got up 3-0," South Caldwell coach Jeff Parham said. "Then we made a couple of mistakes and let them get back into a 3-2 game. Then we found ways to score three more runs."
Lambert lasted two innings before Jeffrey Gainey took over. Utah Jones came on in the fifth inning and finished the game on the mound for the Pioneers.
South Caldwell finished with seven hits and left seven runners on base. The Spartans' first four batters scored five of the six runs and had five of the seven hits.
South Caldwell's last five batters in the order were not so productive. Batters six through nine went 2-for-17 from the plate.
"We didn't come ready to play," Parham said. "At Fred T. Foard, we were up 3-0 (Thursday) night with a lot of excitement and we come here and it didn't seem like we were here. We'll take it and move on and we've got to get ready for the conference tournament."