Mistakes cost the Vikings in two baseball games against Freedom | Sports


Avery baseball struggled in two outings last week against neighboring Freedom High School in Burke County. The Patriots visited the mountain on Monday, March 14 for a game at Viking Field against the Vikings, limiting the Big Red in a 9-0 loss at Newland. The following day, the Vikings returned the favor by traveling to Morganton to face Freedom, where the game featured all of the Patriots in a five-inning 19-0 FHS victory.

Freedom 9, Avery 0

NEWLAND — Avery took the field for a game that served as a good non-conference measuring stick, hosting a talented Freedom High School ball club.

Freedom scored a single run in the top of the first inning on a first solo home run from senior Mason Mozeley to create a 1-0 advantage. Avery’s starting pitcher, Kevin Carter, however, settled in to hold the Patriots to a single run.

Avery struggled to find his timing at the plate against Freedom starting pitcher Daniel Stevenson. The pitcher pitched a full seven innings on the mound, allowing just three hits while striking out 13 Vikings.

After a 1-2-3 down the frame, Freedom added a pair of runs early in the second set. The damage could have been worse, but Viking third baseman Trent Wellborn’s quick reflexes led to an unassisted double play that helped stifle the threat further.

Late inning, Ethan Church started for Avery with a solid single to center field, followed by Wellborn throwing a base hit to the right side of the diamond to put two runners on base with no outs. In what turned out to be Avery’s biggest goal threat of the game, a fielder’s choice of a defenseman and a pair of strikeouts left the Vikings unable to capitalize on their scoring chance.

“Ethan had several good home plate approaches for us in the game,” Avery head baseball coach John Stafford explained.

Neither team committed an offense over the next two innings as the starting pitchers each established their dominance. Freedom was finally able to break the scoreless skid in the top of the fifth inning with a first single, followed by an RBI double from Garren Bryant that made the Patriots lead to 4-0. Carter retired the next batter, but back-to-back walks loaded the bases. Freedom’s Carson Dyson anchored in picking a defenseman, tackling a fifth point. Carter stifled the rally for the Vikings, however, throwing a strikeout to close the inning and leaving two FHS runners stranded.

Avery looked to get back into the game in the bottom of the fifth, as Riley Isaacs hit a one-out single. He was left on base, however, as an at-bat and a rushing strikeout ended the frame.

In the top of the sixth, Freedom flexed her muscles at home plate. Specifically, Mozeley did some damage again, homering for the second time in the game, this time a one-out blast and two runs to right field, to extend Freedom’s lead to 7-0. Following a Viking pitcher switch, Freedom pieced together a pair of walks, followed by a Viking error, to tackle a third insurance run in the frame and a comfortable 8-0 lead. Freedom added a run in the top of the seventh inning using a tee-off triple and an error from Avery a batter later. The Vikings went in order over its final two innings to close out the game.

“They hit the ball pretty well, where we just didn’t hit the ball very well,” Stafford said after the game. “We hung on to the game with them and played all seven innings and made about three errors. Mistakes are the things that are killing us right now.

Freedom 19, Avery 0 (five innings)

MORGANTON — Less than 24 hours after facing the Patriots, the Vikings returned the favor by making the short drive up the mountain to Freedom High School. The game was nostalgic for Coach Stafford, who previously coached the Patriots before taking on head coaching duties at Big Red Country for Avery.

“My first year training at Freedom, my first win came at Avery, so it brought back old memories when they came to town,” Stafford explained. “At Freedom, seeing the pitch again, it was a weird feeling to be in the opposite dugout from what I was used to. It was a bit different and I felt a bit of nostalgia.

Freedom’s mighty roster did little to roll out the red carpet for its former coach, as the Patriots beat Avery to the tune of 19 runs on 11 hits. Also, Avery didn’t do much to help his own cause as the Vikings made 10 defensive errors while collecting just one hit in the five-inning contest called early due to the leniency rule. 10 NCHSAA points.

FHS pitcher Mason Mozeley, who went 16 hitless against East Burke earlier in the month, dominated the game against the Vikings as he knocked out 11 Avery batters in a five-inning complete game .

Avery was taken out in order to open the top of the first inning, and the Patriots netted a pair of runs late in the first inning, using a brace, an RBI single and a sacrifice fly to take a 2-0 lead. .

Mozeley hit the team in the top of the second, then he and his teammates opened the game with 11 points in the bottom of the second, helped by seven blunders from Avery in the inning, to create a 13-0 advantage.

Avery was held scoreless in the top of the third inning, and Freedom added to his lead down the frame. A base-loaded walk increased the margin to 14-0, while a field error tackled a 15th FHS run. A one-out sacrificial fly scored a second run in the inning for Freedom, then Mozeley hit a home run, his third in two games against Avery, this one a three-point shot, for a 19-0 advantage. .

Avery ended Mozeley’s perfect play bid in the top of the fourth inning when Cole Singleton scored a single into right field with one out, proving to be the Vikings’ only hit in the game. Ethan Church was hit by a pitch two batters later to put a pair of runners on base with two outs. Avery failed to capitalize, however, as a strikeout closed the inning to keep the Big Red off the scoreboard.

The Vikings quieted Freedom’s bats late in the fourth inning, retiring the Patriots in order. Avery finished the game with a pair of groundouts in the top of the fifth inning to end the game.

Mozeley, a UNC-Greensboro signee, was a flamethrower for Freedom and was faster than the live pitch the Vikings had seen so far this season, leading to a number of empty bats in the game. according to Stafford.

“We just hadn’t seen that kind of speed yet, so our hitters were behind and couldn’t catch up either,” Stafford added in conversation later that week. “We went out and had a tough training on Wednesday (March 16). These are the mistakes that killed me a lot. I can manage the speed of pitchers because we will adapt to that over the course of the season, but we talked about how we have to adjust our approach to these type of pitchers. We are a very young team and we are learning. I hope that as we approach the conference, we will have better approaches.

During practices later last week, Stafford announced that the team had named a trio of players, Ethan Church, Trent Wellborn and Bryson Whitley, as team captains.

“We’ve never named captains before since I’ve been coaching here. They are two juniors and a second as captains of this team, and I hope recognizing their leadership can help our players rally behind them, which I think will be of great help to us,” explained Stafford. “They bring excitement and love to the game, they work harder than anyone in the team and they’re always in the game whether we win by a wide margin or lose 19-0. They play just as hard from the first base to the very last out.

Avery is scheduled for a trio of road games this week. The Vikings opened Western Highlands Conference play on March 21 with a game at Rosman, followed by a March 22 game at Draughn. AHS ends its week with a game in Hampton, Tenn. on Friday, March 25.


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