by Aaron Garcia
Cavs baseball team battles to third league championship
Judging from an earlier encounter, the Cuthbertson baseball team knew the road through Piedmont for the Cavs’ third consecutive Rocky River 1A/2A conference regular-season title wouldn’t be easy when the two teams met in the season finale on April 27. After all, the Panthers handed the Cavs their last loss, a 4-3 decision on March 30.
But after 13 innings of rain-soaked play, the Cavs emerged with a 3-2 win. Starting pitcher Brian Donovan allowed just three hits and two earned runs in 4 2/3 innings of work. Cameron Tekker, a University of Virginia signee, entered the game in the fifth inning and struck out 11 batters in six innings without allowing an earned run. The senior battled out of several jams and kept the Panthers at bay.
“Cameron Tekker is just a quality man of integrity,” said Cavs coach Travis Little. “He’s such a great battler, and he’s so strong.
“I can’t say I’m surprised he had the heart to go out there and challenge every hitter,” Little continued. “That’s just who he is.”
The Cavs also got a solid performance from Brendan Setzer, who earned the win after pitching the final two innings. Will Fussy got the Cavs on the board with a solo home run in the third inning, and Cuthbertson extended its lead to 2-0 in the fourth on an RBI double by John Mangum. Piedmont knotted the game at two runs apiece in the fifth, and the score stood until the top of the 13th inning, when outfielder Andrew Hendel’s solo home run put the Cavs up for good.
“It was a long game, a good game and everyone played very hard on both sides,” said Hendel.
Added Tekker: “Getting this win really means a lot to us. We’ve had Piedmont as a rival since we started school here (three years ago). After we lost that first one to them, we wanted to come out here and give it all we had. We ended up giving all we had for 13 innings.”
The win improved Cuthbertson to 21-3 on the season.
Mavs win league golf crown
On April 25, the Marvin Ridge boys golf team won the Southern Carolina 3A/4A conference championship at Rolling Hills Country Club. The Mavs out-shot runner-up Weddington, 301-311, in the 18-hole event.
Four of the tournament’s top seven spots were filled by Marvin Ridge golfers. Joshua Wright carded a 72 to take medalist honors, followed by second-place Colson Hoffman of Porter Ridge, who fired a 74. Marvin Ridge teammates DK Kim and Trey Blood tied for third with Porter Ridge’s Jeff Spence, as each shot rounds of 76. Maverick Brandon Katsousdas recorded a 77, good for sixth, followed by Weddington’s Greg Henion (78).
Next up is the state dual-team Western Regionals, which are slated to begin on Monday, May 7. Marvin Ridge and Weddington each qualified for the Class 3A postseason, while Porter Ridge will participate in the 4A competition. Sun Valley golfer Cameron Lindenmuth will also compete in the individual tournament.
Metrolina’s Rushing inks with Bridgerwater (Va.)
On April 20, the Metrolina Christian Academy football program produced its first college signee when senior quarterback Ross Rushing inked a National Letter of Intent to continue his career at Bridgewater College, a Division III program in Virginia.
Rushing, who transferred to the Warriors from Piedmont before his senior season, threw for 1,809 yards and added another 1,242 on the ground. He combined for 30 touchdowns for the 5-4 Warriors. He also earned N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association All-State honors.
Rushing said he was impressed with the level of attention he received from the Bridgewater recruiting staff.
“The recruiter for our area called me and made me feel really welcome,” Rushing said. “He wasn’t just telling me what I wanted to hear; he was telling me what they had, what they were bringing in. He was shooting it really straight, and he was calling me three or four times a week. He was more frequent than a lot of other people.”
Rushing, a three-sport standout, also averaged 11 points and six rebounds on the basketball team. This spring, he’s playing baseball for the first time since his sophomore season at Piedmont. The sabbatical seems to have paid off. Rushing is batting .565 with three home runs and 38 RBIs at the plate, and is 6-1 with a 1.60 ERA on the mound.
“I thought in baseball, I was just going to coast through and get ready to go to college for football and I’d use baseball as a boost to (stay in shape),” said Rushing, whose Warriors team finished the regular season 14-4 with the top seed in the Metrolina Athletic Conference playoffs. “But it’s become more than that.”
Rushing said he met with the Bridgewater baseball coaches during his football visit last month and said they haven’t shut the door on him playing both sports in college.
“We just have to see how everything shakes out,” Rushing said.
Despite loss, Piedmont salvages season
Although his Piedmont baseball team suffered a heartbreaking 3-2 loss (in 13 innings) to Cuthbertson on April 27 for the Rocky River 1A/2A conference’s regular-season title, Panthers coach Milt Flow couldn’t help but reflect on the strides his young squad has made this season.
“To have a chance with this young group to even be playing for a championship, and with what they gave me (effort-wise against Cuthbertson), I couldn’t be more pleased,” said Flow, whose team has lost six games this season by one run.
After finishing last season 19-11, including a fourth-round Class 2A playoff appearance, the Panthers got out to a choppy start this spring while battling a tough nonconference slate that included Sun Valley, Marvin Ridge (twice) and a pair of games against private-school power Charlotte Christian. After eight games, the Panthers were 1-7.
“We started out, and we had five hard games to start the season, but we hung right there with people,” said Flow. “This is the youngest team I’ve had. We kept preaching to them that ‘We’re playing good – we just have to cut out the mistakes and we’re going to be all right.’”
The Panthers rebounded to win seven of their next eight games to improve to 8-8.
“We played a lot of big teams and we just kept getting better,” said Flow.
By the time the season-ending matchup with Cuthbertson rolled around, the Panthers were 10-11 overall and 11-2 in league play. Perhaps most important, Flow said his team, which had battled injuries all season, was finally healthy headed into the postseason. Now the coach hopes the trying start to the season will pay off in the playoffs.
“What we always preach to our boys is that by playing those Class 4A and 3A teams, when we get back to (Class) 2A, we can hold our own and make a little run in the playoffs,” Flow said.