By Chris McCarthy/Editor
Allen Davison made sure that he and his fellow Gaston High seniors went out as winners in the final home game of their high school baseball careers on Wednesday (Apr. 9).
Following a shaky first two innings in which he allowed four runs, hit two batters and watched his defense commit four errors, the senior righthander shut down West End the rest of the way to lead the Bulldogs to a 9-4 victory at GHS.
Over the final five innings, Davidson allowed four baserunners, only one of which advanced past se-cond. He retired the side in order three times, including the final six Patriots.
Davidson’s finest moment came with two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning.
With the hosts holding a 7-4 lead, the Patriots loaded the bases when Justin Graul singled, Dylan Gregory got on base by way of an error and Rhett Lister was hit by a pitch. But the West End rally was diffused when Davison induced an inning-ending groundout. Davison then sent the visitors down in order in the sixth and seventh.
In the meantime, Gaston (9-14, 1-4) scored four runs in the third, three in the fourth and a pair in the fifth to overcome an early 4-0 deficit.
In a complete-game effort, Davidson struck out 11 while allowing four hits and two earned runs. He did not walk a batter.
“You expect that out of a senior, especially by someone who is going to play at the next level (Tennessee Temple University),” said Gaston head coach Derrick Sewell. “A lot of the trouble that Allen got out of in the first two innings, he did it by himself. But he settled down and began to dial it in and get ahead in the count. When he noticed that the guys behind him finally got comfortable, he started letting them putting the ball in play.”
At the plate for the Bulldogs, Dylan Cornelius went 2-for-2 with two RBI and a run scored, while Jailyn Britton went 2-for-4 with two RBI.
Shai Ogles and Scot Arrington each had a hit, and RBI and two runs scored.
The Patriots (10-16) drew first blood in the top of the first when Levi Weems’ base hit plated Caegan Epperson. The damage could have been worse for the hosts, but with the bases loaded and two outs, Davidson induced an infield groundout.
West End made it a four-run advantage in the next inning, as three Bulldog fielding errors led to runs from Gregory, Hunter Grant and Weems.
Davidson soon found his groove, however, retiring eight of the next 11 batters.
The Gaston offense got untracked in the bottom of the third, when respective two-out singles from Davidson and fellow seniors Britton and Cornelius helped the hosts force a 4-4 tie.
The Dawgs took the lead for good in the following inning when Ogles scored on an error. Arrington and Javonte Pope later scored to make it 7-4.
Cornelius and Ogles scored in the fifth for the final margin.
Cory Willingham pitched the final two and two-thirds innings for the Patriots, allowing two runs, two hits and two walks while fanning three.
“That’s kind of been our story all year- we score some runs early and can’t hold on,” said West End head coach Joe Payne. “I think when we scored those four runs, we got a little bit complacent. [Davidson] did a good job in finding the strike zone and we couldn’t throw strikes. That was the difference in the ball game.”