Photo by Maria Finnegan 

Following its first playoff appearance in four years, Cedar Ridge baseball coach Bryson Massey knew there would be some rebuilding within his program when 2022 ended.

He didn’t know the extent would be deeper than he first thought.

Aidan McAllister (now playing at Hofstra University), Garrett Ray, Nick Nolan, Bryan Flores, Cristian Maces, Braedyn Jacobson, and Carlo Garay all graduated last June. Catcher Efrain Morales, who had just finished a sophomore season where he was named All-Conference, transferred to the P27 Baseball Academy in South Carolina during the summer.

That took away the Red Wolves’ leading batter from last season. Morales hit .417 last season and led the team in home runs.

Massey is focused on who is remaining for the Red Wolves and their start to the 2023 season was a successful one.

Junior Nick Atkin went 4-for-4 with a walk while Quinn Finnegan earned the win on opening day as Cedar Ridge rolled past Knightdale 19-8 on Monday afternoon in Wake County. In his first game, freshman Issac Anderson went 2-for-4 with two RBIs as the Red Wolves jolted the Knights for 12 hits.

Landon Dalehite, a sophomore, hit leadoff and reached base five times, including four walks in his varsity debut.

It’s the third year in a row that Cedar Ridge has won its season opener.

“The strength of our team is on the bump,” Massey said, referring to Finnegan. “We have Quinn back. We have B.J. Thornton back. We have Mason Cates back. We have three horses back and I believe in all three of them. They’ve put their work in. They’ve brought in this offseason and they’re leaders.”

Finnegan, who started the state playoff game against Orange last year, earned the victory after he threw two innings. He allowed just one hit and struck out four.

Joe Garbee and Armando Sanchez each threw two innings in relief. Mason Cates tossed a perfect seventh to complete the win, striking out two.

Cedar Ridge struck for two runs in the first inning. Cates, who drew a one-out walk in the first inning, also scored the opening run off an error off a ball hit by Finnegan. Caden Thompson, a freshman who was a member of Stanback Middle School’s Orange Person Athletic Conference championship team last spring, scored as a courtesy runner for Finnegan after Atkin lined a single to centerfield.

After Knightdale got an unearned run in the first, Cedar Ridge struck for two more in the second. With two out, Issac Anderson was hit by a pitch, while Dalehite reached on an infield single. Anderson scored on a passed ball. Mason Cates sent a grounder to left field to bring in Dalehite and increase the Red Wolves lead to 4-1.

Atkin grounded a single up the middle to start a third inning where the Red Wolves added three more runs. Atkin scored off a sacrifice fly by David Shoof to right field. Anderson knocked in Grant McGuffey with another single. Anderson added another run when he stole second base, stole third and came in to score off a throwing error.

Shoof, who was behind the plate, replaced Morales in the starting lineup.

“He’s put some work in this offseason,” Massey said. “He knew that was going to be a spot that was open. I challenged him this summer to put the work in. He’s taken that role. He’s matured a lot and he’s a different guy this year. He was a freshman last year and he’s got a higher maturity level now.”

Cedar Ridge is scheduled to have back-to-back home games on Friday and Saturday. On Friday night, the Red Wolves will host Chapel Hill. On Saturday, they will play A.L. Brown at 1PM.


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