Published: Jul 07, 2012 07:00 PM
Modified: Jul 09, 2012 12:50 PM
HILLSBOROUGH - One inning into the first meeting this summer between East Chapel Hill and Orange High School, the Panthers had proven they could swing the bat.
After five innings they also made it clear they’ve found some pitching.
Junior lefthander Jonah Neville threw a complete game shutout Tuesday to get a 10-0 win, scattering six Wildcat hits over five innings in the truncated game and improving to 2-0 in the Central Carolina Scholastic Summer League.
"Jonah has pitched well for us this summer," Orange coach Dean Dease said.
Neville set the tone early by striking out four of the first seven Wildcats he faced any had seven strikeouts by game’s end, having walked just one.
Neville gives Orange something most high school coaches would envy: a second lefthander. Junior classmate Jordan Toney, younger brother of 2012 all-conference player Andrew Toney, also pitches left-handed when he’s not in the outfield.
Neville gets his job done with an effective breaking ball and changeup.
"Jonah hasn’t been overpowering, but when he spots the ball and throws his changeup, he’s good," Dease said. "Sometimes, slow-slower-slowest works really well."
The Panthers looked good at the plate, compiling 10 hits. Junior shortstop Garrett Cloer, a multi-talented athlete who will compete for game time at Orange both as a quarterback and basketball player, led the way by going 2-for-3 with a two-run double.
Junior Quinlan Blackmon, getting a start at catcher, also went 22-for-3 with a double for a run batted in.
Toney, 1-for-3, clouted a two-run triple that was part of a five-run, six-hit first inning for the Panthers. Orange batted around its lineup in the opening frame and, with a 10-0 lead, didn’t need to bat in the bottom of the fifth.
Orange improved to 8-3 with its fifth straight win. That kept the Panthers in the hunt for a post-season playoff spot right behind Northwest Division leader Holly Springs, which beat Orange home-and-away earlier in the summer.
East Chapel Hill (3-7 after a fifth straight loss) found some solace in its young hitters. Five of the Wildcats’ six hits came from players who are trying to earn regular roles on the East varsity. Junior designated hitter Gabe Garcia went 2-for-2 while junior Ian Breakfield, junior Reese Krome and rising freshman Connor Stough each got a hit. Junior catcher Josh Baldwin, taking a break from Junior Legion ball, hit a double.
"The good news out of this for us is that we’ve got some young guys who are playing at a slightly higher level than I was expecting," East coach Phil Woodell said.
Both East and Orange were to see each other again this weekend, weather permitting, in the annual Wood Bat Invitational in Hillsborough. The tournament, which features all batters swinging wood instead of metal, originally had been scheduled for June 29-30 but was postponed because of withering heat.
The rescheduled opening round July 6 was to feature Smithfield versus East Chapel Hill, followed by Orange versus Fuquay-Varina in the nightcap. First-night losers were to meet Saturday for third place and the winners playing for the championship.
Both rounds were played too late for today’s Chapel Hill News. See Wednesday’s CHN for a report.