Wayne Country Day claims CPIC title
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on May 2, 2010 1:50 AM
That early-season, five-game skid?
It's now a memory.
Wayne Country Day, which struggled find its identity in March, put the finishing touches on the 2010 Coastal Plains Independent 1-A Conference baseball championship Friday afternoon.
Cole Davis and Tyson Pearson each swatted a multiple-run homer and the Chargers dusted Oakwood 13-3 in the regular-season finale for both teams. WCDS captured the league's automatic bid to the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association 1-A playoffs, which start May 8.
A team that finished toward the bottom of the conference one year ago, the Chargers (14-7 overall, 7-1 CPIC) claimed their first league crown since their state championship run in 2007. It's just the fourth CPIC title in program history since 1984.
"I believe this group overachieved," said WCDS head coach Michael Taylor. "I knew it was a good group of boys. We had just one senior on last year's team and I knew I had several kids coming back. Finishing at the bottom of the conference last year and finishing first this year is pretty remarkable."
Still feeling the effects of an emotional, 10-inning victory over archrival Greenfield just 48 hours earlier, Wayne Country Day started lethargic against Oakwood. The Eagles seized a 3-2 lead after 21/2 innings of play.
Aware his team seemed to be going through the motions, Taylor delivered a wake-up call before the Chargers' third at-bat. He wouldn't repeat what he said, but the players certainly received the message.
Cody Neal (3-for-3) started the inning with a lead-off single and stole second. Pearson clubbed the game-clinching, two-run home run to put WCDS in front, 4-3.
The Charger weren't done.
Davis (2-for-4, 3 RBI) reached on an error and moved into scoring position on Cameron Ford's base knock. The two hung around the bases after Hil Tanner's flyout, and crossed the plate on Dare Uzzell's two-RBI single -- his only hit of the afternoon.
Stoan Stewart plated Uzzell to cap the five-run outburst.
"The top of the lineup started hitting the ball," said Taylor. "We started clicking and ran the bases well. I had to do something to get things moving and get the guys energetic. We were flat, lethargic."
Wayne Country Day, which emerged victorious in 10 of its final 12 games, put the game away with a five-run, fourth-inning explosion. Davis belted his two-run homer during that stretch. Ford (2-for-3), Pearson, Uzzell, Stewart and Tanner (1-for-3) combined to manufacture three runs to put the Chargers comfortably ahead 12-3.
Taylor's team induced the mercy rule in the fifth inning and collected the victory for five seniors -- Ford, Stewart, Tucker Pearson and Blake Marchese.
Uzzell limited the Eagles to three hits and logged five strikeouts in a complete-game effort. Oakwood scored two earned runs.
"To have this team play as well as they did down the stretch was remarkable because we could have easily folded when we lost those five games in one week," said Taylor. "I told the guys it would either 'make us or break us,' and it made us into a better team. We started playing hard, started hitting the ball well and started playing defense.
"The big thing is we had different people who stepped up every game."