The memory of losing last season the COVID-19 pandemic has driven the Wayne Country Day baseball team all season long.
On Saturday afternoon, the Chargers erased those demons with a series-clinching 15-1 win over The Burlington School in game two of the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association 2A state championship series.
Wayne Country Day claimed its first state championship since 2007, and fittingly, the Chargers got to win the state championship on their home field in front of their families and friends.
“It feels good. I tell boys that ‘this is about them,’ and a lot of times it’s up to them,” Wayne Country Day head coach Adam Pate said. “I facilitate very little, and they’re the ones that win the game.
“I’m just proud of them. I’m a little cold from that ice bath, but I’m happy for them and for our program.”
Garrett Moffett got the start on the mound for the Chargers, and he never flinched during a game that started off as a pitchers’ duel as The Burlington School’s Wagner Morrissette held the Chargers scoreless until the fourth inning.
Everett Johnson drilled a double and advanced to third base off a wild pitch. Morrissette then tried to pick off Johnson at third, but the throw was off, and Johnson sprinted home to score the game’s first run.
Later in the inning, with the bases loaded, Gavin Johnson scored off a wild pitch to increase the Chargers’ lead to 2-0.
With the bases still loaded, Braeden Collins, Andrew Eltz, Guylar Netchaeff, Everett Johnson, and Rowan Watt all drew walks, and suddenly the Chargers led 7-0.
Gavin Johnson then had a sacrifice fly, while Moffett hit an RBI single, and by the time the inning was over, the Chargers had built a 9-0 lead.
“We had some good at-bats early on, but their starter was really good, and he held at bay,” Pate said. “We kind of kept chipping away, and finally Everett got us going with that double, and from there, we didn’t really look back.”
Netchaeff’s RBI single in the top of the fifth put the Chargers up 10-0, but The Burlington School’s Zack Cimino hit a home run in the bottom of the fifth to cut the Chargers lead down to 10-1, which extended the game into the sixth and seventh innings.
The Chargers did not score a run in the sixth, but in the seventh inning, the Chargers scored their final five runs of the game, including a two-run double from Watt and a two-run home run from Moffett which was his third home run during the championship series.
Watt came in to pitch the bottom of the seventh and got Clay Haigh to hit a pop fly, and the Charger’s preseason dream of a state title became a reality.
“All in all, we’ve had a blast this year, and the team chemistry has always been really good, and I think that’s really what got us here to this point,” Pate said.
Seniors Watt. Moffett, Tanner Willman, Bryan Harrison, and Bryce Smith all played their final games in a Chargers’ jersey, and Pate said it awesome to see the seniors win a state title in their last game.
“A lot of talent in that group of seniors. A lot of kids that have been here since they were in middle school and early high school,” Pate said. “Some of the seniors were on the runner-up team in 2018, and then last year was taken away, and you hated it for them.
“Luckily, they were able to get a full season as seniors, and we were able to come out on top.”