Reynolds baseball coach Bryan Craig wasn’t necessarily down in the dumps.
But that wouldn’t have been much of an exaggeration to describe Craig’s temperament as the Rockets entered spring break earlier this month with a 1-4 record in the Mountain Athletic Conference.
My, how a nine-game winning streak changes things.
Reynolds (13-6, 7-4) has assured itself at least a share of the MAC 3-A championship ahead of Friday night’s game at McDowell (10-8, 4-7).
The first pitch is set for 7 p.m. in Marion.
“It’s kind of exciting because we control our own destiny,” Craig said.
“We’re in control of everything (in the MAC 3-A) and it’s unexpected, especially after that early stretch. Our kids just changed their mindset. We started doing the little things right and letting the outcome take care of itself. The kids know what’s at stake on Friday and we know that it’s never easy to win at McDowell.”
Mars Hill recruit Jared Green came in and closed out a 3-2 win at Enka on Tuesday in eight innings. He pitched two scoreless innings of relief and was 1-3 with a double and an RBI. Kyle Cagle was 1-4 and Spartanburg Methodist (S.C.) recruit Cory Watt went 1-3.
The MAC officially recognizes a 3-A and 4-A champion in every team sport.
The Rockets are the hosts for next week’s 3-A tournament starting Monday and still have a shot at claiming a piece of the unofficial outright regular-season title.
At least half will go to Roberson.
The Rams (11-10, 8-3) have clinched the MAC 4-A championship and Tuesday’s 7-1 home win over Erwin assured them at least a share of the MAC outright title.
Matt Ide pitched a complete game, allowing no earned runs, four hits and no walks. He had three strikeouts.
Nate Fore was 2-for-2 with an RBI, while Vanderbilt recruit Garrett Blaylock went 2-3 with a double, home run and four RBIs. Jacob McCarthy added two hits and Chris Barnwell was 1-2 with a pair of RBIs.
Blaylock is presently the youngest Division I recruit in WNC baseball and Josh McNair is Roberson’s only senior.
Roberson wraps up its regular season Thursday at home against Asheville High (13-8, 6-5) which is having one of its best springs in recent memory. Game time is 7 p.m. in Skyland.
“First and foremost, when we talk about the MAC title, we talk about the overall title here at Roberson,” Rams coach Eric Filipek said.
“We want to know who the first-place team is. At the beginning of the year, we thought this conference was up for grabs because we honestly lost some great seniors and had a lot of young guys. If you had told me we would have at least a share of the championship right now, I don’t know how I would have responded. But as we went through the season, we expected more from our guys and they started to expect more from themselves. I’m proud as heck of this group.”
Cougars seniors Devin Mangum (Furman) and Miles Moore (Bucknell) signed with Division I colleges on Wednesday. They said that anticipation is high in Asheville’s dugout as well.
“(Roberson) is a a great team,” Moore said.
“They’ve been preparing for us, and we’ve been preparing for them. When you have two great teams like this, it just comes down to who executes.”
The MAC 4-A tournament is a best-of-three series between McDowell and Roberson and scheduled for May 5-6.