Cougars roll past FCD

Apr. 11, 2014 @ 01:26 AM

The High Point Christian baseball team needed a couple at-bats to get things going offensively. Once it did, it took complete control.

The Cougars, ranked No. 1 among NCISAA 3A teams, scored seven runs in the fifth inning – keyed by Zach McLean’s grand slam – to break open the game and roll to a 10-2 win Thursday against Forsyth Country Day at Oak View Baptist Church.

“We were a little slow out of the gate,” HPCA coach Corey Gesell said. “Their pitcher did a good job early on. We were trying to adjust to what he was doing. He was effective early, and then we started hitting it.”

The Cougars (13-3, 5-1 PACIS), in their final game heading into spring break, scored single runs in the first, third and fourth innings, as the Furies (1-11, 0-3) kept within reach with a run in the top of the fourth.

HPCA, however, finally strung together some hard hits in the fifth. Ben White led off with a triple, followed by back-to-back RBI doubles by Hansen Butler and Dylan Wilkinson. Three batters later Luke Gesell roped another RBI double.

After two walks loaded the bases, McLean, who hit a long foul earlier in the at-bat, crushed a pitch over the fence in left field for his first grand slam of his high school career and only his second ever. The shot was his ninth home run of this season.

“It was awesome,” he said with a big smile. “I’ve hit one grand slam ever. So, that was pretty special for me. … We were getting good pitches, but we just couldn’t hit the ball. We weren’t squaring anything up. And then we finally started squaring up some balls and ended up getting 10 runs.”

Luke Gesell (3-1) got the win on the mound in relief of Butler, who struck out all six batters he faced. Gesell also struck out six in three innings, as he, Butler and White combined to allow just one hit. FCD, after scoring on a hit-by-pitch in the fourth, added an unearned run in the seventh.

In addition to McLean, who finished 2 for 4 with three runs and four RBIs, White was 2 for 3 with a double, triple and an RBI, while Wilkinson was 2 for 3 with a double and an RBI, and Luke Gesell was 2 for 2 with a double and two RBIs.

Hayden Wright took the loss for the Furies, allowing six runs on 10 hits in four innings. He also had the lone hit for his team.

The Cougars next play in the Mingo Bay Classic in Myrtle Beach, S.C. They’ll play five games in five days, starting with Battlefield (Va.) on Monday. They’ll return home to face rival Wesleyan Christian, ranked No. 3, on April 22 at Oak View Baptist.

“Sometimes (we play) decent,” coach Gesell said. “We’re meshing better, and guys are having fun together. Just like with any coach, he wants total focus for every game, every pitch, every inning. We’re still working toward that.”