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Rapid reactions from Whiteville’s Game 2, 8-3 win over Ledford

Revised on: 06.18.2018 at 12:12 p.m.

Posted on: 06.2.2018 at 02:21 p.m.

Lincoln Ransom and Will Hinson celebrate the Game 2 win.

By Margaret High

It’s about as hot as an outdoor high school graduation here in Zebulon.

Game 2 proved to be much more exciting (for Whiteville) than yesterday’s 10-0 loss to Ledford in five innings. WHS Coach Brett Harwood said he was anticipating a three game series, letting senior pitcher and UNCW-commit Brooks Baldwin start today.

There was a much larger Wolfpack crowd today; the same can be said for Ledford.

Game 2 was marked by strong pitching and aggressive offense on both sides. Ledford stole lots of bases yesterday and today they attempted to repeat. However, stronger defense by the Pack kept the stolen base count to a handful.

Fatigue likely played a factor in today’s game for Ledford, both physically and mentally. In the fifth inning, Ledford’s dugout was full of players with wet towels draped over their heads while the Whiteville dugout remained sweaty but towel-less.

Highlights of the game:

  • Baldwin’s inside-the-park homer. A Mudcats stadium employee told me later that out of his eight years working here, he’s only seen one other high schooler almost get a home run. The other inside-the-park homer was hit much closer to the foul pole and he allegedly plays in the minor league now.
  • Jake Harwood had a key first hit against Ledford’s starting pitcher and N.C. State-commit Logan Whitaker that shook his confidence and gave Whiteville the chance to attack.
  • The bottom of the fourth left Whiteville fans nervous, but Baldwin and the rest of the outfield looked calm after the inning ended 3-2. They answered with a strong top of the fifth, which was crucial for separating Whiteville even more from Ledford.
  • Dylan Hamilton got hit not once, but twice by Hale, who was the relief pitcher for Whitaker. The first hit was deemed a lean-in. The second hit Hamilton on the thigh, allowing him to walk and load the bases. Ledford retired Hale after only one inning.
  • A lot more doubles and even a triple from Wolfpack batters. Today’s showing was a clear example of Coach Harwood’s experience influencing his game strategy.
  • Top of the seventh was a little disappointing. Whiteville had the bases loaded with only one out, but the next two up to bat weren’t able to deliver hits. They ended with three men on base, but it ended up not being lethal to the Wolfpack in the bottom of the seventh as Baldwin calmly closed out pitching.

Out of all these highlights, it was the passed ball thrown by Hale that put senior Matthew Smith across home plate and reminded us of Whiteville’s tradition of winning.

Matthew Smith is the youngest son of Whiteville High School Athletic Director David Smith. His eldest, Taylor, also played baseball at Whiteville and has a couple of state championship rings for himself. Their mother, Susan, rallied the crowd and has earned a reputation as the main cheerleader for all things Wolfpack.

As Matthew Smith walked across home plate and into the roaring Wolfpack crowd, he took off his helmet and tipped it to them. No one was watching David Smith in the dugout, because all eyes were on his son. Matthew earned his spot in the hitting order later in the season and worked hard to get there. So as Matthew smoothly nodded toward the fans, David Smith got emotional. This was his last baseball player, and he scored a key run in the top of the sixth that brought a little more confidence to the Wolfpack dugout for Game 2.

Game 3 will be another big fight. Jake Harwood will start pitching for Whiteville, and Ledford will probably bring back in Game 1 starting pitcher and N.C. State-commit Chris Villaman.

The Wolfpack will need to eek out an early lead and have strong defense to clutch a back-to-back title. In the meantime, everyone should keep their fingers crossed no bad weather makes its way toward Zebulon.

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