Charlotte Catholic High baseball coach Randy Belk says there are no “unimportant games” for his team, and that’s why Wednesday’s come-from-behind 6-4 victory over Charlotte Country Day in the Jack Sink Spring Break Invitational at Myers Park was more than meets the eye.
The Cougars compete in one of North Carolina’s best high school baseball conferences – with nationally ranked Providence, perennial powers Ardrey Kell and South Mecklenburg, and much-improved Olympic.
Several “wild-card” playoff berths are available each season, and they are awarded in part on teams’ number of victories. With its tough league competition, Belk says, Catholic needs as many victories as possible to make a run for a postseason berth.
“Every win counts, and I keep telling our players that,” Belk says. “We were able to win two of three games in this tournament, and we need to get those victories wherever we can.”
On the final night of the three-day event, Catholic (9-5) seemed headed to victory over Country Day (8-5), thanks to the strong pitching of starter Paul Sloda, who limited the Buccaneers to three hits over the first five innings.
Catholic took a 2-0 lead into the top of the sixth, but three hits, a walk and a Catholic error allowed Country Day to score four times.
The Cougars appeared to be going down quietly in the bottom of the inning with two consecutive outs before they came alive.
“I give our team a lot of credit,” Belk says. “When you’re winning and it slips away like that, a lot of teams lose their oomph. Our team didn’t do that tonight.”
Belk says that will be important in coming weeks, as the Cougars return to conference play.
“We’ve lost a lot of close games this season,” he says. “Winning a game like this one can help turn it around.”
The rally started with a single from Charlie Fox, who had two hits on the evening. Then Country Day’s pitchers issued three consecutive walks and then hit a batter. That tied the score, and clean-up hitter Zack Pacious lined a two-run single for a 6-4 lead.
Country Day got two hits in the seventh, but its rally hopes were snuffed out by a double play.
Jack Sink Invitational
Lake Norman Charter 3, Mallard Creek 2: East Carolina-bound Jeremy Whitehead had a single and triple and scored twice for the Knights (9-3), who went 3-0 in the tournament. Luke Morgan drove in a run for the Mavericks (5-9).
North Mecklenburg 7, Charlotte Latin 6: Davis Comer pitched a complete-game victory for the Vikings (6-8), and Walker Finke had a two-run single for Latin (5-7).
Hickory Ridge 10, Hopewell 7: The Bulls (7-6) scored five in the first and four in the third, building a 9-1 lead against the Titans (8-5).
Charlotte Christian 6, Hurricane (W.Va.) 0: Scott Wallace pitched a shutout for the Knights (8-4), who went 3-0 in the tournament.
Providence Day 4, Myers Park 3: In the tournament’s final game, winning pitcher Zach Iverson reached base four times for the Chargers (8-3), who also went 3-0 in the event. A late rally by Myers Park (4-9) fell short.
Late Tuesday: Jonah Beamon and winning pitcher Miles Gary each had two hits as Charlotte Christian beat Hickory Ridge 5-3 and jumped to an early lead and downed Charlotte Latin 10-6.
On Deck Invitational
Harding 23, West Charlotte 5: Just two days after absorbing an 11-6 defeat from the Lions, Harding (5-7) built a huge early lead and coasted to victory in the On Deck Invitational title game at West Charlotte (2-11).
Vance 16, Garinger 2: The Cougars (5-6) posted an easy victory in the third-place game. Garinger fell to 1-12.