Cavs take region showdown

By Kevin Eckleberry

March 19, 2014

The Callaway Cavaliers have a long way to go if they’re going to win a region championship.

The Cavaliers took a big step toward achieving that goal with a dramatic victory over the Chapel Hill Panthers on Wednesday, though.

A year ago, Chapel Hill beat Callaway twice in the regular season on the way to the region title.

On Wednesday, in the first meeting of the season between the two region favorites, Callaway pushed a run across in the bottom of the ninth inning to win 3-2.

Chapel Hill rallied from a 2-0 deficit to force extra innings, but in the end it was Callaway finding a way to earn the home win.

“They beat us twice last year, and we finally got them,” said Callaway’s Perry Keith, the winning pitcher. “It’s huge.”

Nick O’Berry delivered the winning run with an RBI single in the bottom of the ninth.

O’Berry came to the plate with runners on second and third with no outs, and he knew he didn’t need to try to do too much.

“You have the infield in, and you really want to get one into the outfield. That’s all you can do,” O’Berry said. “You just want to make contact. You don’t want to strike out.”

O’Berry drove the ball into the outfield for a solid single, and Terry Godwin trotted home with the winning run.

“It’s a big game, a big region win,” O’Berry said.

The inning began with Godwin reaching on a walk.

Next up was Austin Garrett, who hit a groundball to the shortstop, who tossed it to second base for an apparent force-out of Godwin.

After a brief meeting, though, the umpires changed the call, and Godwin and Garrett were both ruled safe, putting runners on first and second with no outs.

After a heated discussion between the Chapel Hill coach and the umpires, which ultimately led to the coach’s ejection, O’Berry stepped to the plate.

Callaway coach Dusty Hubbard decided to press the issue, and he called for a double steal, and Godwin and Garrett both made it without a throw.

“We had set (the double steal) up with the fake bunt there because we saw them charging,” Hubbard said.

Moments later, O’Berry’s hit gave the Cavaliers the win.

“This was similar to the game we played up there last year. We got up 2-0, they battled back and tied it late, and they ended up winning at home,” Hubbard said. “It’s a big win. I’m proud of our kids, proud of the way they battled.”

O’Berry got the start for the Cavaliers, and he pitched well before leaving the game after issuing a leadoff walk in the top of the sixth inning.

The Panthers tied the game with a run in the sixth inning, but Keith pitched three scoreless innings after that to get the win.

“I had good defense behind me,” Keith said. “I knew I just had to make quality pitches, and let my defense work. They did great.”

The Cavaliers started quickly with a pair of runs in the bottom of the first to go up 2-0.

Garrett reached on an error leading off the inning, and two batters later, Chase Freeman’s RBI double put the Cavaliers on the board, and Cody Mimbs followed with a base hit.

The Cavaliers didn’t do much else against Chapel Hill pitcher Brandon Sattenfield, though.

It wasn’t until Sattenfield left the game after the eighth inning that Callaway was able to score again.

Chapel Hill pushed its first run across in the fifth inning, with Triston Leggett coming through with an RBI groundout with runners on second and third.

It looked like the ball was headed toward the outfield, but Keith made a terrific play at second base to get the out, and save a run.

Another Chapel Hill base runner was thrown out at home trying to score on a pitch that got away from the catcher, and Callaway left the inning with a one-run lead.

Chapel Hill tied it an inning later on a two-out, RBI single by Pavin Peters.

Keith gave up just one hit the rest of the way, and the Cavaliers were finally able to push a run across in the ninth against Michael Rookard.

The Cavaliers (6-2 overall) will try to improve on their 2-0 record when they visit Rockmart on Friday.

“I’m pleased with the outcome. We’re kind of in the driver’s seat now,” Hubbard said. “But if you don’t take care of business with Rockmart, what you did here is no good.”