Massey wins first game as Cedar Ridge baseball coach

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Updated: March 10, 2020

Every coach will remember his first win and Bryson Massey was no different.

Speaking two days after Cedar Ridge defeated the Burlington School 3-1 at Red Wolves Baseball Field in Hillsborough, Massey picked apart piece-by-piece the vital moments of his first coaching win.

In a year of younger players across the Big 8 Conference, Cedar Ridge sophomore Will Berger went four innings to earn the win as the Red Wolves defeated the Spartans 3-1.

Berger, who started at quarterback last season for the Cedar Ridge football team, is the younger brother of Phillip Berger, who graduated last June with a school-record 22 pitching wins. Phillip now pitches at William Peace University, where he was named the USA South Rookie Pitcher of the Week on February 24.

While Cedar Ridge senior Fransisco Martinez didn’t earn the save, he was one of the heroes of the night. In two out in the fifth inning, Martinez replaced Chris Pearce, who was forced to leave the game because of an injury. Martinez walked into the game with the bases loaded for Burlington, but got the final out to retain the 2-1 lead.

“Francisco took the ball in a big situation for us,” Massey said. “He stepped up as a senior in a close game. He showed his leadership in a big situation for us.”

Sophomore Cristian Macias earned the save with a shutout seventh inning.

After hitting 9th in the season opening loss to Carrboro, Grady Ray was inserted into the leadoff spot on Friday.

“He had some good at-bats against Carrboro in the nine spot,” Massey said. “I thought he had enough good cuts to earn that leadoff position. He looked comfortable in the box against Burlington and I was pleased with that.”

After Massey replaced Mitchell Frazier in September, almost all of the members from the 2018 squad were gone. Two years ago, Cedar Ridge finished 18-6, 11-3 in the Big 8 Conference and reached the second round of the state playoffs. Only Ray and Grant Fox remain from the Cedar Ridge team of 2018.

A new roster and a new coach has given Cedar Ridge baseball a fresh start. That’s despite a disappointing 11-2 loss to Carrboro to open the season on March 4.

“It’s been a breath of fresh air,” Massey said. “The guys are really eager to work. Against Carrboro, we didn’t perform like we wanted to. All the guys knew it. I challenged them on Wednesday at practice and it was probably the best practice we’ve had. We worked hard on the mistakes that cost us. They came out on Friday night and played well as a whole.”

Ray, starting in centerfield, made several big catches on a night of swirling winds and blustery cold.

“He made some big time plays,” Massey said. “Since February, we’ve had some guys grow up a lot. They’ve taken some roles they haven’t been in before. They’re stepping up and earning the spot to play in.”

Ray, Aidan McCallister, B.J. Thornton all started their first varsity games last week.

Cedar Ridge will travel to Northwood on Tuesday night for its Big 8 Conference opener. You can hear the game on Hillsboroughsports.com starting at 7.

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