Warriors win third straight championship

Published 12:38 pm Wednesday, May 19, 2010

WILSON -From dogpile to dogpile.

Last year when the Lawrence Academy baseball team was at Wilson’s historic Fleming Stadium they ended their visit with a Saturday afternoon huge pile-on atop the pitcher’s mound celebrating a state championship.

New year, new dogpile, same result.

The Warriors hammered out a 15-2 win Saturday and cruised to their third straight 1-A North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association state championship title. It was also their sixth straight trip to the finals under sixth-year coach, Robert Kravitz.

“We made sure after the dog-pile broke up last year that we wanted to do it again,” said a smiling Kravitz after the game as he admirably watched his players jubilantly roll around on the infield, “and that’s where it’s got to start.

“You gotta get focused early,” he added.

Capping a 28-4 season with a state title shows a lot of focus. A season-long team batting average of over .300 and an earned-run average among his pitchers of near 2.0 with 11 shutouts for the senior-dominated team.

Saturday marked the final game in Green-&-Gold for William Norrell, Cameron Peed, Blake Hill, Evan Holton, Chad Whitehead, Shane Leggett, Daniel Layton and Patrick Dilday.

“I love these seniors,” said Kravitz. “They mean a lot to me because I’ve had most of them for three, four, five years so this is a very special moment for me. Probably my most memorable.”

For the championship series, Lawrence outscored their opponents 31-5.

Individually, senior Blake Hill was 6-for-9 and drove in seven runs in three games. He also got the complete-game shut-out win on the mound in Friday’s 10-0 Warrior semi-final victory. Only one of Lawrence’s trio of games in Wilson went the full seven innings.

It was junior Scott Edge who led the title tilt at the plate going 3-for-4 and driving in five runs and senior Peed was 2-for-3 with a pair of triples and two RBIs.

Saturday’s clincher began with the Warriors coming out with game-faces on, tallying three runs in the top of the first.

Peed opened the game by fighting off seven pitches before sending a booming triple to the left center-field wall. He would trot home moments later on Scott Edge’s blooper to left.

One out later, Edge scored on Hill’s base hit to left and after moving to third, Hill crossed the plate when Dilday lifted a sacrifice fly to center. Lawrence led 3-0 after just a half-inning of play.

After back-to-back walks and a wild pitch put two Greenfield runners in scoring position, starter Norrell got the next three straight outs to pitch his way out of trouble in the bottom of the first.

Lawrence collected two more runs in the top of the second when Ryan Lilley walked, stole second and went to third on a passed ball. Peed followed with another base-on-balls and a steal of second base setting up more scoring. Lilley would score on a passed ball and Peed came home on Edge’s sacrifice fly.

Greenfield broke their scoring drought in the bottom of the frame. A lead-off double would later score on a two-out base-hit to center to make it 5-1.

Lawrence sent 10 men to the plate in the top of the third. The Warriors loaded the bases and then the third base-on-balls of the inning plated the Warriors’ sixth run of the game. With one out, Edge greeted the new Greenfield pitcher with a rocket down the third-base line that scored two more.

Later, after a run scored on a wild pitch, Whitehead’s first RBI of the game came on a base-hit into the gap in right center-field and Lawrence finished the inning with five runs and a 10-1 lead.

Kravitz began moving players and substituting in the top of the fourth.

A pitching change produced Greenfield’s second and final run of the game while Lawrence scored five more times over the next two innings before Whitehead closed out the game in relief in the top of the fifth by striking out the side. The final out setting off the wild celebration.

“I don’t know if I’d say I’m getting used to it,” said Kravitz with a grin, “but there is the old cliché of acting like you’ve done it before.

“It is fun,” he added, “so maybe I’ll be a little more emotional about it when I get home.”

Among the hardware handed out: Edge, Holton, Whitehead and Peed were named to the All-State team.

For Whitehead, this marked his fifth straight trip to the Final Four.

“Every trip was special,” said the UNC-Pembroke bound star who has been coming to the championship series since he was an eighth-grader, “and the last three with this group has made it even more so.”

“This is amazing,” said Holton, who hopes to play for Mars Hill College next season. “Coming through again just proves that we belonged here.”

“The time came quick,” added Peed, who takes his bat and glove to Methodist College in the fall. “I’ve played with these guys seven years growing up and I’ll miss them a lot.”

“We played some of the best baseball any high school team could ever play,” concluded Norrell, headed to Maryland-Eastern Shore. “This state championship combined with the two Easter tournaments just makes it an awesome season.”