Junior outfielder Trevor Marsh of UNC Wilmington was named to the All-Colonial Athletic Association first team in baseball. The Seahawks (34-23) won the league’s regular-season and tournament titles.
Marsh, who played in high school for Asheboro, batted .319 with 12 home runs and 48 runs batted in. He also smacked 13 doubles and one triple and stole three bases. One of his home runs came in the NCAA regional opener against Duke last month at Conway, S.C.
Thomas, White pick up freshman honors
UNC Greensboro pitcher Luke Thomas and Western Carolina pitcher Matt White were named to the Southern Conference all-freshman team.
Thomas, in his first season out of Providence Grove, posted a 4-4 record with a 5.69 earned run average and a team-high three saves. Thomas was used in relief in 18 of his 22 outings. He struck out 50 batters in 55 1/3 innings.
Thomas shared the team-high mark in victories with Randleman alum Matt Kemp (4-3), whose 25 appearances – all in relief – were the second-most for the Spartans (25-34).
White, a rookie out of Randleman, posted a 5-0 record with a 3.86 ERA in 21 appearances, with 20 of those in relief. He struck out 16 and walked 19 in 30 1/3 innings. White notched wins in three of his last five regular-season appearances for the Catamounts (21-33).
Campbell second baseman Makayla McClain was named to the All-Big South freshman team. The former Providence Grove standout batted .341 with two home runs.
McClain, who was twice named Big South Freshman of the Week, led Big South freshmen with six triples and 31 stolen bases. She had a 10-game hitting streak late in the season.
The Camels (42-18) won the Big South Tournament and went 1-2 in NCAA Tournament play in Durham.
** Edi Austin, a freshman out of Providence Grove, batted .389 with 28 home runs as Louisburg College set a school record for victories with a 63-5 record.
The Hurricanes finished fourth in the National Junior College Athletic Association Division II World Series.
Several alums from Randolph County schools have produced notable opening stretches in their collegiate baseball careers.
Providence Grove alum Luke Thomas was the winning pitcher in his collegiate debut, throwing 1 2/3 shutout innings when UNC Greensboro defeated Northeastern on Feb. 18 in the second game of the season. The Spartans scored three runs in the bottom of the ninth inning.
The next day, Thomas took the loss when giving up four late-inning runs to Northeastern.
In the season’s second week, Thomas had two outings against Notre Dame, throwing one hitless inning in the second game of the series and, the next day, three shutout innings with five strikeouts in the series finale.
He added his first collegiate save March 1 with two shutout innings in a 4-1 home victory against Elon.
Then this past weekend, Thomas was the winning pitcher when the Spartans began a three-game sweep of visiting Rutgers. Thomas threw two shutout innings in the 3-2 outcome.
In the series finale against Rutgers, Randleman alum Matt Kemp, a junior, improved to 2-0 this season with a shutout inning in the Spartans’ 10-9, 10-inning victory.
White has mixed outings
Randleman alum Ryan White pitched in the season opener for Western Carolina, making his collegiate debut vs. Akron. His stint came to begin the ninth inning, striking out his first batter.
But an error and a pair of walks preceded Ian Pennington’s game-tying grand slam. The Zips went on to win 14-12.
Last week, White posted 1 2/3 hitless innings at Gardner-Webb and then he logged a shutout inning in a 10-3 victory against visiting Eastern Kentucky.
Gardner honored twice
Former Eastern Randolph baseball player Brody Gardner has had a strong start to his collegiate career with Greensboro College. The freshman outfielder was a two-time USA South Conference Rookie of the Week in February.
He received the conference’s first rookie honor of the season as a result of a .350 batting average and driving in two runs when the Pride won two of three games against Lynchburg.
The next week, Gardner batted .316 with three doubles, two runs batted in and scored three runs when the Pride went 2-2. He has been in the lead-off spot in the batting order.
On Saturday, Gardner was 3-for-5 with two runs scored in a 7-5 victory at Berry (Ga.) College.
Randleman baseball players celebrate after the final out of the Class 2-A state finals. (PJ Ward-Brown/North State Journal)
Randleman finishes remarkable postseason run
BURLINGTON – It was even better this time for Randleman baseball players.
They should know.
With the core of the team intact, the Tigers repeated as Class 2-A state champions with another emphatic result.
“Senior year, a good way to go out,” center fielder Braylen Hayes said.
Randleman capped a sterling season with Saturday afternoon’s 12-5 victory against Whiteville in Game 2 of the championship series at Burlington Athletic Stadium.
“My last game is winning another state championship,” said second baseman Kaden Ethier, who tracked down a fly in shallow right field near the foul line for the game’s final out. “I don’t see how I could ask for anything more.”
The list of accolades and achievements are bound to be talked about for a long time around Randleman after this team produced a 33-1 record with one memorable performance after another.
Senior catcher Brooks Brannon was named the championship series Most Valuable Player, driving in three runs in his last game of what became one of the most distinguished seasons in North Carolina prep baseball history.
He had company in going out on top. Seven seniors played their final game for Randleman.
“A storybook kind of thing for those guys, it’s pretty awesome,” coach Jake Smith said.
The clinching game was the closest outcome for the Tigers in the state playoffs. But players insist it’s the work in the offseason that makes these seasons so special.
“Ever since September, we’ve been fighting, fighting,” senior pitcher Ryan White said. “We just completed our goals.”
Randleman has won three state titles in baseball, the last two in the same ballpark in front of boisterous partisan crowds.
“They’re all hard,” Smith said of churning out a championship season. “These kids make it seem easy the way they play on the field.”
Comparing the championship seasons, this latest version seemed more compelling. It was a full season under regular conditions after the pandemic-reduced 2021 slate.
“It’s a better feeling, just knowing that it’s back-to-back,” Brannon said. “It’s awesome. Last game is a win, that’s an amazing feeling.”
That spread throughout the team.
“So much excitement because everything that goes into it,” said junior third baseman Hunter Atkins, who supplied three hits.
Senior Trey Way, who had two hits and reached base four times, scored three runs from the lead-off spot, Brannon and senior Gus Shelton both had three hits and senior Bryson Sweatt, Hayes, White and sophomore Seth Way all had two hits.
Whiteville (23-5) became the first team in eight state-playoff games to score against Randleman, taking a 3-0 lead in the first inning despite the ball leaving the infield only twice. Those runs ended the Tigers’ shutout streak that began with a blanking of Trinity in the Piedmont Athletic Conference Tournament final.
Still, White pitched a complete game in the title-clincher for the second year in a row – just this time it was a seven-hitter instead of a no-hitter. He struck out eight and walked four.
Brannon called the Tigers together in front of the dugout as they exited the field after the bottom of the second. His message was that this was no time to deviate from what they’ve been doing the past few months.
“He said that we’ve put up so many runs all year that we just need to calm down,” Atkins said. “Just be the leaders that we are.”
With that, the Tigers pretty much lined up to answer that call. They delivered with five runs, keyed by Brannon’s two-run triple and Seth Way’s go-ahead two-run double down the third-base line. White had the first of his two RBI singles.
Brannon’s run-scoring single in the fourth pushed the edge to 6-4. Shelton’s three-run double with two outs came in a six-run sixth.
Whiteville was a no-hit victim by Drake Purvis in Friday night’s 10-0 result in Game 1, which was reduced to five innings by the mercy rule.