05/16/12 — Davis swats walk-off home run ... again

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Davis swats walk-off home run ... again

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on May 16, 2012 1:48 PM

Wayne Country Day head baseball coach Michael Taylor wanted to get a runner on base, play small ball and put pressure on Epiphany's defense.

Cole Davis had a simpler, more efficient plan.

The senior co-captain mashed a walk-off home run in the bottom of the eighth inning, and capped the Chargers' come-from-behind 3-2 victory over Epiphany in quarterfinal-round action of the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association Class 1-A baseball playoffs on a wet, breezy Tuesday afternoon.

The third-seeded Chargers (14-8 overall) advanced to the final four for the first time since 2010 and fourth time overall since 2006. They await the outcome of today's Greenfield-Northeast game and will play the winner Friday at 4 p.m. on the historic Fleming Stadium diamond in Wilson.

Faith Christian of Rocky Mount and four-time defending state champion Lawrence Academy meet in the other semifinal at 1 p.m.

Davis' adrenaline was pumping after he retired the Falcons' 2-3-4 hitters in order during the top half of the eighth inning. He fanned Tyler Held, who stroked a two-run home run in the first inning off WCDS starter Cody Neal, who earned a no-decision.

Before Davis stepped into the batter's box in the bottom half of the eighth against Epiphany reliever Adam Nelson, Taylor just encouraged him to get on base.

"Coach was telling me that I had Hil (Tanner) coming up behind me and to do whatever I could to get on base," Davis said. "We were going to do a fake bunt-and-run to get me on second and in my mind I was thinking there's not going to be a next batter behind me.

"(Nelson) caught me low and inside, but I had so much adrenaline going. I knew we had a little momentum, so we needed to finish it off."

Finish it off, indeed.

Davis swung at Nelson's first offering and deposited it over the left center-field fence to give the Chargers their third win over the Falcons (12-6) this season. It was Davis' second walk-off homer of the year and fourth overall.

WCDS has just seven homers this spring.

The sixth-seeded Falcons held a 2-1 lead after three innings when lightning and a steady rain forced a 59-minute delay. When the teams resumed play, the Chargers eventually grabbed a 2-2 tie on Davis' RBI, fifth-inning double down the third-base line that scored Jacob Park.

It was just the fourth hit surrendered by Epiphany right-hander Chase Ballenger, who kept WCDS off stride with breaking pitches that consistently painted the corners of the plate. Ballenger permitted five hits, struck out nine and walked three in a seven-inning stint.

"(Ballenger) had our guys off balance with the curveball," Davis said. "He seemed to go curveball, curveball (almost) every pitch to the top of our lineup. He'd mix in a fastball.

"Then as he got to the bottom, he'd go fastball."

Davis led the third-seeded Chargers with three hits and two RBI. Tanner contributed two hits and gunned down two runners at second base in the nail-biting affair. Josh Jackson batted 1-for-3.