Month: March 2023

Guentensberger earns save, Nordan’s 2-run single helps Orange end Wilson Curse, beats South Central 7-6

WILSON–For a change, Orange baseball’s ride home from Wilson was a pleasant one.

Games inside Historic Fleming Stadium haven’t simply been loses for Orange. There have been ugly performances. Last year’s 13-0 loss to Perquimans, the eventual 1A State Champions, was so ignominious, it led Coach Jason Knapp and his staff to do some soul searching that eventually led to a conference championship.

This year, Knapp came into Fleming Stadium with a sour taste in his mouth following a tight 4-2 loss to Western Alamance last Thursday. The obstacles going into Saturday were high ones for Orange. It was their third game in five days with their top two pitchers still battling nagging injuries.

Knapp called up a junior varsity hurler to start, used a senior who had never pitched in a varsity game to carry the middle innings, relied on a senior making his first appearance on the mound this season for the final six outs and somehow came away with a victory over the defending Big East Conference champions.

Junior Connor Nordan lined a two-run single to left field to score Elijah Santos and Jackson Berini to carry a three-run fourth inning and the Panthers held on to win 7-6 over South Central. It was a strong all around performance from senior Cameron Guentensberger, who went 2-for-4 at the plate and finished the game with his first career save after he threw two perfect innings in the sixth and seventh.

It would be erroneous to say that there was a joyous Orange dugout afterwards. Neither the Panthers not the Falcons could sit in their respective dugouts because Fleming Stadium in under renovations. Teams were required to sit on benches along the first and third base lines. The grandstand was also blocked off, forcing fans to watch from picnic areas.

It was still a joyous moment for Knapp, who had lost in two previous trips to Wilson.

“I looked at (Jackson) Berini and (Ryan) Hench and Guentensberger and (Ty) Walker and (Ryan) Horton and told them they all did something their older brothers couldn’t do. Get a win here,” Knapp said. “It feels good.”

Joey Berini, Cooper Hench, Colin Guentensberger (who was in attendance on Saturday), Will Walker and Cooper Hench played on Orange’s 2019 team that was thumped by Wilson Fike 6-0 at Fleming Stadium. Davis Horton, now a catcher at Rockingham Community College, was on last year’s team.

It was the first carer win for Walker, a senior threw the second and third innings after the Falcons scored two runs in the opening inning.

South Central (5-4) reached the 3A Eastern Regional Championship series last spring, where they lost to South Brunswick.

Trailing 2-0, Orange loaded the bases in the second inning against South Central starter Nicholas Mayo. Connor Nordan drew a walk while Guentensberger lined a single to left filed. Cross Clayton walked, leading to Ryan Horton lining a single to the game in left field to tie the game. With two out, Jackson Berini smoked a double over the head of shortstop Dalinh Nguyen-Brown to bring in Clayton and Joey Pounds, who was running for Horton, to put Orange ahead 4-2.

Berini, Orange’s leadoff batter, is second on the team with ten RBIs through eight games.

Walker, in his first pitching performance, calmly set down the Falcons in the second courtesy of a strong play by Ryan Honeycutt, making his season debut at first base. With one out, Honeycutt snatched a grounder hit by Falcon designated hitter Jackson Brunch, flipped it to Berini to retire Mayo and threw to Walker covering first for a 3-6-1 double play.

Orange (7-1) pushed its lead to 7-2 with four runs in the fourth inning. Clayton drew a leadoff walk and went to second after a sacrifice bunt by Horton. With two out, Berini reached on an effort. Elijah Santos, batting second, lined a single to left field to score Clayton. Following a walk to David Waitt, Nordon sent a hard grounder to left field for a two-run single.

Nordan has RBIs in seven of Orange’s eight games.

The Panthers had to hold on as the Falcons mounted a comeback. They started with a two-out rally in the fourth when pinch-hitter Marcus Byrd was hit by a pitch. Bunch walked and catcher Josh Britt singled. Nguyen-Brown drew a bases-loaded walk.

In the fifth, Mason Hobbs lined a leadoff single to left against Orange’s Josiah Gibbs. After a strikeout of David Horvath, Brody Stallings lined a single to left. Scooter Waters belted a double that would have left most high school ballparks, but not in Fleming Stadium with a 335-foot right field line. Waters had to settle for a double and Hobbs scored. New pitcher Carter Hale grounded out to Best, which brought in Stallings. Waters then made it a one-run game on a throwing error and the Panthers lead was reduced to 7-6.

Guentensberger came in cold from centerfield to throw the sixth inning, but induced three long flyouts to retire the Falcons in order for the first time all night. Knapp could have gone with Pounds, who replaced Guentensberger in centerfield, to throw the seventh. But he stuck with Guentensberger, who delivered another 1-2-3 inning in the 7th against the heart of the Falcons order.

It was Guentensberger’s first career save.

“He’s got great poise,” Knapp said. “He just seems to be around the strike zone every time we go to him since he was a freshman. He’s mature beyond his years. We weren’t to him in the sixth and things went smoothly. We went right back to him because you don’t want to give that team an opportunity.”

Orange will resume conference action in Burlington tonight to face Walter Williams.

Orange lacrosse’s Matthew MacNeir and Brandon WIlliams discuss win over Western Alamance

The Orange men’s lacrosse team has won two consecutive Mid-Carolina Conference championships. With returning player like Connor Kruse, Joe Cady, Jake Wimsatt goalkeeper Katie Walter, Tigh Metheney, Sascha Van Pragg and Alden Cathey back, the Panthers lost only five seniors from last year’s team that reached the 3A/2A/1A Eastern Regional championship game in the state playoffs. However, freshmen who arrived fresh from Orange Middle School and Gravelly Hill Middle School have made an instant impact in big games for the Panthers amid some injuries and other player absences. Matthew Macneir won 15 of 21 faceoffs in Orange’s 13-9 win over Western Alamance on Wednesday night at Auman Stadium. Another freshman, Brandon Williams, scored a goal and scooped up four ground balls against the Warriors. Last Tuesday, the Panthers defeated Cedar Ridge 15-0 at Red Wolves Stadium. Williams had a goal against the Red Wolves. Coming up tonight, Orange will host Northwood in a crucial matchup at Auman Stadium. Opening face off will be at 6PM. You can hear the game on

Cedar Ridge softball’s Kimber Shambley & Charlotte Lowry discuss win over Northwood

The Cedar RIdge softball team claimed a pair of wins last week over teams from Chatham County. On Wednesday, Cedar RIdge rolled past Seaford 23-1 in Pittsboro., Sophomore Kimber Shambley hit her first home run as a Red Wolves with a two-run blast in the fourth inning. Shambley went 3-for-4 with four RBIs. Another sophomore, Charlotte Lowry, went 1-for-2 with a single. On Friday, the Red Wolves defeated Northwood 6-4 in Hillsborough. Lowry started as the pitcher and threw a complete game to earn the win. She is the younger sister of former Cedar Ridge shortstop Ava Lowry, who is now playing with North Carolina Wesleyan. Shambley, Lowry, Reagan Simmons and freshman Mia Best make up the core of a young Cedar RIdge team playing in a deep Central Carolina Conference. Freshmen Laci Sykes and Victoria Matthews have also seen time early on this season as the Red Wolves are off to a 6-2 start. Cedar RIdge will host crosstown rival Orange on Tuesday night. You can hear that game on


Berini’s two-run single, Gibbs’ pitching pushes Orange past Western Alamance 7-1

For a team that has its top two pitchers back from a squad that won its final eleven regular season conference games last year, it’s not very surprising that Orange has started 6-0 for the first time since 2016.

Except it isn’t that simple.

Top starting pitcher Ryan Hench has missed the last two games while junior Cross Clayton hasn’t pitched since opening night. Yet the Panthers weren’t phased when they opened Central Carolina Conference action against Western Alamance on Tuesday afternoon.

Junior Josiah Gibbs, starting his second straight game, threw four shutout innings against the Warriors to earn his second win in as many games. Senior leadoff hitter Jackson Berini lined a two-run single during a five-run fifth inning as the Panthers broke open a tight game to win 7-1 at Panther Field.

Orange had dropped its past two games at home against Western Alamance. Last year, the Warriors upset the Panthers 5-4 in Hillsborough. In 2020, Western took the season-opener 9-7 in nine innings.

The decisive finals score disguised some hairy moments for Orange in the middle innings. The Warriors were 90 feet away from tying the game in the fifth inning. With Orange leading 2-0, Camden McCandless drove a double to left field past a diving Elijah Santos. Tyler Atkins lined a one-out double to left that hopped over the wall for a grounder rule double. Atkins advanced to third on a wild pitch. Aidan McCandless sent a high fly to centerfield, where Cameron Guentensberger made the catch and delivered a strong throw that kept courtesy runner Will Patillo from scoring. With two out, Landon Rose grounded out to Neo Best to end the inning.

Western Alamance reliever Zack Oakley delivered a gallant performance amid emergency circumstances. Rose, who started, injured his elbow early in the second inning as he pitched to Clayton. Oakley was summoned from the bullpen after Rose couldn’t continue. After Clayton walked, Best lined a single to centerfield. Santos grounded a ball that got past the third baseman to load the bases. Berini sent a fielder’s choice to second baseman Parker Queen, who threw out Santos at second on a fielder’s choice where Clayton scored. David Waitt lined a two-out single to right field to bring in Best.

In four innings of work, Gibbs allow only four hits and one walk with five strikeouts. Senior Joey Pounds threw two innings and protected the lead.

Ryan Honeycutt drew a one-out walk to start the fifth. Ty Walker, a courtesy runner for Honeycutt, moved to second base on a wild pitch. Designated hitter Wyatt Hedrick sent a grounder to shortstop Eli Abbott, who caught Walker in a rundown. But the throw to third base was dropped and Walker was safe. Clayton walked to load the bases. Santos drove in his first run of the season with a bases-loaded walk with two out to plate Walker. Berini delivered the biggest hit of the game with a two-run single to centerfield. Waitt followed with an RBI single to right field, scoring Santos. Connor Nordan, who has had an RBI in each of Orange’s first six games, sent a worm burner to left field to bring in Berini.

Pounds sent the Warriors down in order in the sixth inning. Coltin Hedrick struck out two batters in the seventh to close down the night just as it was getting chilly.

Orange will travel to Elon tonight to complete the two-game series with the Warriors. The Panthers are scheduled to travel to Historic Fleming Stadium to face South Central on Saturday night in Wilson. Orange has lost in its last two trips to Wilson. In 2020, they fell to Wilson Fike. Last year, they fell to Perquimans, who went on to win the 1A State Championship.