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BOILING SPRING LAKES—West Brunswick beat South Brunswick 11-2 May 1 in the final conference game of the season.
West (10-2, 17-4) finished with 14 hits. The victory also completed a sweep of county teams this season and left West in a first-place tie with Whiteville.
“We had some guys bring the bats with them tonight,” West coach Mike Alderson said.
Five West players had at least two hits each.
Markel Jones, switch hitting, was 2-for-4 with a walk, a double and two RBIs.
“Markel got a couple of good hits,” Alderson said.
Chandler Taylor was 2-for-3 with the home run, a bunt, a walk and two RBIs.
“He hits a home run and then he gets the bunt down for a hit,” Alderson said.
Hunter Howard was 3-for-3 with two doubles, a walk and one RBI.
“Hunter saw the ball really well tonight,” Alderson said.
Khalil Gause was 3-for-4 with three RBIs.
Cole Josselyn, the No. 8 hitter, was 2-for-3 with a walk.
“The bottom of our lineup gets on, Cole and the guys who can run. When we get that speed on the bases, we have guys who can knock them around,” Alderson said.
Three West pitchers held South to four hits.
Ryan Caison started but had to leave after 1.1 innings because of some pain in the middle of his pitching arm. Carson Tew then pitched 4.2 innings, giving up two hits and two runs. Mason Berne hit a two-run home run. Tew walked two and struck out two.
“Carson did an extremely good job coming in in an emergency situation,” Alderson said. “He’s usually the one who follows Ryan, but he did a tremendous job.”
Cooper Hewett threw five pitches in the seventh in ending the game.
South catcher Gavin Milligan threw out four runners. West catcher Dustin Darguzas threw out one runner.
Kevin Harris was the losing pitcher, giving up 10 hits and seven runs (one unearned) in five innings.
West led 4-2 entering the top of the fifth and then scored three runs with two outs to take control of the game.
In the rally, Jones walked and Taylor, who had hit a home run in his previous at-bat, was safe on a bunt. Howard doubled home a run. Gause was safe on an infield single and a run scored. An error by the South third baseman allowed West to score the third run and take the 7-2 lead.
West scored four runs in the sixth. Singles by Jones and Gause drove in two of the runs. Dustin Darguzas hit a sacrifice fly in giving West an 11-2 lead.
In the team huddle after the game, the players were happy and kidding, but Alderson reminded them of what lies ahead.
“It’s like what (we coaches) told them—our record is 0-0 now,” said Alderson, who won for the 343rd time at West. “We got to stay hungry. I think they have something to prove from last year.”
West has a deep pitching rotation, players who can steal bases, solid infielders and excellent hitters (see statistics below).
West also has two other ingredients to make a long playoff run.
“I think we’re hungry,” Alderson said. “And it’s not how good a team you are when you get to the playoffs, it’s who’s hot. Maybe our bats are waking up and getting hot at the right time.”
West is batting .322 and its on-base average is .441.
Chandler Taylor is batting .511 (23-for-45) with two home runs. Six of his hits had been for extra bases. He has a team-best 24 RBIs.
Markel Jones is batting .385 with a home run, two triples and five doubles. He has 14 RBIs.
Khalil Gause is batting .419 with 12 RBIs. Erick Hill is batting .377 with 11 RBIs. Cole Josselyn is batting .321. Hunter Howard is batting .288 with a team-best six doubles. He has 13 RBIs. Dustin Darguzas has 10 RBIs.
Leaders in stolen bases are Jones (20), Hill (18) and Josselyn (13).
West has turned 16 double plays. Hill, at second, has made two errors all season. Howard, at first, has made one error all season. West’s outfielders have made one error all season.
The top pitcher is Landon Tilley, 6-1 with a 1.00 ERA. Ryan Caison is 3.1 with a 3.27 ERA. Carson Tew is 4-1. The team ERA is 2.87.
Two junior varsity players who will be on the team for the playoffs are Tyler Stanley and Gray Cheers.
Stanley batted .455 with a home run, two triples and 15 RBIs. He stole 15 bases. Cheers batted .453, with a home run, two triples and a team-best 21 RBIs.
As a pitcher, Cheers was 8-0 with a 0.38 ERA.
The West Brunswick junior varsity rallied for five runs in the bottom of the sixth to beat South Brunswick 7-3 May 1 in Shallotte and finish unbeaten in the conference.
West, coached Drew Dull, finishes 12-0, 19-2 overall. The two losses were to varsity teams.
Charlie Carcich hit a triple and a double. Gray Cheers also had two hits, one a triple, and one RBI. Hunter Ashburn hit a double and had one RBI. Austin Evans hit a double. Connor Durham and Cameron Lewis each had a sacrifice fly. Austin Turner had one RBI.
Durham pitched six innings in the victory, giving up seven hits and three runs. He walked two and struck out five.
Zack Johnson pitched the seventh, giving up a hit.
Team leaders in batting: Ashburn, .484 with 18 RBIs; Tyler Stanley, .455 with a home run and two triples and 15 RBIs; Cheers, .453, with a home run, two triples and a team-best 21 RBIs; Zack Johnson, .358, with six doubles and 15 RBIs; Austin Turner, .352, with six doubles and 20 RBIs; Durham, with 16 RBIs and no strikeouts in 44 at-bats.
Leaders in stolen bases: Ashburn, 20; Lewis, 18; Stanley, 15; Jake Elliott, 11.
Pitching leaders: Cheers, 8-0, 0.38 ERA; Durham, 6-1, 1.40 ERA; Tristan Lewis, 1.62 ERA in 13 innings; Johnson, 1.80 in 11.2 innings; Dalton Mann, 2.03 ERA in 10.1 innings.