Mustangs back on top in WNCAC baseball

Mustangs back on top in WNCAC baseball


Mustangs back on top in WNCAC baseball


Smoky Mountain's Jacob Gass, left, and Kevin Allred.

Smoky Mountain’s Jacob Gass, left, and Kevin Allred.

SYLVA – Jeremy Ellenburg knew he was walking into a favorable situation at Smoky Mountain.

Still, the rookie high school baseball coach had no way of knowing it would be this good for him and three seniors — Jack Ridenour, Jacob Gass and Kevin Allred.

The first-place Mustangs (8-3, 5-1) jumped out to an 8-0 lead Tuesday and then held on for a 10-6 Western North Carolina Athletic Conference win at Pisgah. They are now a game up or more on everybody else in the WNCAC standings.

“Our pitching and defense have kept us in games all year. Tonight, we hit the ball a little bit and that was great to see,” Ellenburg said.

“This is such a good group. It’s a group of workers. They want to get better and they play for each other.”

Ellenburg pitched for Western Carolina University from 2003 to 2006 and was hired to coach the Mustangs back in November. He has Smoky Mountain on track for back-to-back WNCAC championships.

Andrew Thomas (4-0) was the winning pitcher Tuesday on a frigid evening for baseball in Canton. He turned the game over to N.C. State recruit Cole Hooper in the fifth inning.

Hooper was also 2-for-5 at the plate with a double and three RBIs, Gass went 2-4 with a pair of RBIs and Tyler Waliezer had a pair of a singles, a double and two RBIs.

The Black Bears (5-7, 3-3) had their chances — they scored all their runs in the fifth and sixth, but each inning’s rally ended with the bases still loaded.

“You can’t underestimate anybody in our conference,” Gass said.

“(Pisgah) has got a good team. Everyone on our team has been putting in a lot of hard work this season. I believe in my teammates and I know there are a lot of guys on this team who can get job done.”

Smoky Mountain is hitting .370 as a team. Individual leaders are Bryce Junaluska (.581), Gass (.500), Parker Williamson (.424), Matthew Ridley (.405), Tristen Kenyon (.393), Cole Hooper (.361), Allred (.360), Trevor Lewis (.321) and Ridenour (.304).

Williamson is a junior who has slugged three home runs, while Ridley was stolen a team-high seven bases. Thomas and Hooper (3-2) have accounted for seven of the Mustangs’ eight wins with their pitching.

The next scheduled game for Smoky Mountain is a 7 p.m. nonconference matchup Friday at Erwin.

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