Wildcat Baseball 2011 - 3rd Round: My Site News: Wildcats bring Rockets down to earth

Sunday, April 10
Wildcats bring Rockets down to earth
Hoffman goes to 5-1 and gives Person its first loss this spring in PAC-6 baseball  
BY W.E. WARNOCK, CHN Sports Editor
CHAPEL HILL - Before last week, Roxboro Person hadn't even trailed in a PAC-6 baseball game this spring, let alone lost one.

"They're a quality club," East Chapel Hill coach Phil Woodell said. "They were undefeated in the conference for reason. They pitch well and play really good defense and just beat people."

But that changed Friday.

East Chapel Hill put together what may have been its best game so far this year and topped the league-leading Rockets, 7-2.

Junior right-hander Max Hoffman improved to 5-1 by scattering three hits over six full innings against a Roxboro team averaging .300 hitting before Friday. He struck out seven Rockets and walked just three on 91 pitches.

"Max has been great," Woodell said. "Every time he's gone out on the mound, he's given us a chance to win. That's all you can ask out of starting pitcher."

Friday's win came seven days after a 9-3 decision over Union Pines on day one of the Hilltop Invitational Tournament.

Hoffman struck out five and gave up one earned run in that game, one of two wins in the HIT that helped get East Chapel Hill (9-6, 4-2 PAC) back above. 500 overall.

"We grew as team (in the HIT)," Hoffman said. "The whole team started playing better baseball."

Person's Austin Cole took the loss Friday after giving up six hits and walking three Wildcats in the first three innings.

Person (9-3, 5-1 PAC) pieced together its only run off Hoffman, and a brief 1-0 lead, after Justin Brame led off the top of the second with a walk. He advanced to third on two putouts, then came home on a double by Joel Newton.

East came back in the bottom of the second with four runs. Alex Moore and Craig Kiley started off with singles, and then came home, respectively, on a passed ball and then a single by past shortstop by leadoff man Parker Tew.

"Parker just makes things happen at the top of the lineup," Woodell noted. "He gets on and gives us some opportunities."

Roxboro seemed flummoxed after that. Hoffman allowed just two men on base over the next three innings.

Back-to-back singles by Taylor West and Phillip Morales to start the bottom of the third, followed by a Tito Ramos sacrifice, added an insurance run.

East picked up two more in the sixth, started off by one of Person's three errors. Consecutive singles by Tew, Jonah Keyserling and West off Rocket reliever Brandon Napier brought in fleet base-runner Tyler Klimko and Tew.

"It's not so much that we're frustrated now, but we know we can play better than we did today," Person first-year coach John Koket said. "Up until this point, we've had really strong pitching performances; we've had timely hitting and we've limited our mistakes in the field."

Tew hit 3-for-4 with an RBI to pace East's hitting. West went 2-3, and Morales 2-4.

Person leadoff batter Nick Wallace and Newton (both 2-2 with a double) led the Rockets.

"All in all, that was as close to a complete ball game as we've put together this season," Woodell said.

The win was the second straight in conference play for East Chapel Hill, which pounded Hillside 16-0 in a midweek game. Josh Baldwin pitched a one-hitter for that win, striking out five and walking just one over four innings.

Baldwin also went 2-3 at the plate in Durham, with two runs batted in and a triple. Rickie Clark hit 2-2 and Tew 2-5.

Next: East Chapel Hill hosts Jordan at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday and then travels to Durham Riverside on Thursday.


SMALL BALL — Tito Ramos of the Wildcats drops this bunt down as Rocket catcher Joel Newton rises from his crouch to pursue the ball.

Rockets slapped by Cats

CHAPEL HILL — The East Chapel Hill Wildcats looked to go the other way at the plate against Person Rocket pitching and it worked quite well, as the Wildcats slapped 10 hits and produced seven runs in a 7-2 Piedmont Athletic Conference victory Friday afternoon at the East Chapel Hill Field.  (from Person County Life)