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Ardrey Kell beats South Mecklenburg to win baseball title

Doug Norman made Senior Night for Ardrey Kell’s baseball team a memorable one Friday.

Norman came up big on the mound and at bat for the nationally ranked Knights, who beat South Mecklenburg 6-1 in their season finale to claim the SoMeck 8 4A regular-season title.

The Louisiana State signee held the defending state 4A champions to just four hits while striking out 11, and added an RBI single during a three-run fourth inning that put the game away for Sweet 16 No. 1 Ardrey Kell (22-2, 13-1).

“We understood what the game meant to us,” said Norman, who improved to 8-1 on the season. “We understood that if we won, it was just us (winning the title). If we lose, then we tie for third. If you know anything these guys, they don’t want to be tied for third.”

It was the third consecutive conference regular-season title and fourth in eight years for the Knights, who go into next week’s SoMeck 8 4A tournament as the top seed. The other league titles came when Ardrey Kell played in the Southwestern 4A.

“Doug is our guy – everybody knows he’s our guy,” Knights coach Hal Bagwell said. “He’s a real special kid, and these are the moments we want him to be in because we know he’s going to be successful. He’s a warrior.”

However, the Sabres (17-6, 11-3) had their chances early.

South Meck loaded the bases with one out in the top of the second inning, only to see Norman pitch out of the jam with a pair of strikeouts. The Sabres then scored their only run in the bottom of the third off Harris Yett’s solo home run, which tied the score 1-1.

But Norman and his Ardrey Kell teammates weren’t worried.

Aaron Pilkington put the Knights back in the lead with a line-drive homer in the bottom of the third, and they added four more runs in the fourth and fifth innings to give Norman some breathing room.

“I just said, ‘That’s all they’re getting,’” Norman said. “I’ll start off the game not really going after it, but once we get late in the game and I know I’ve got to make some big pitches, I just turn it up a notch.”

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