Month: March 2024

Davis strikes out seven, Cedar Ridge rallies to beat SW Edgecombe in Pitt Co. Easter Tournament

While the Cedar Ridge baseball team took a sojourn from Central Conference play during spring break, they suddenly went from being in second place to vaulting up to first.

As they return to standard life this week, it is suddenly game on in a wide open league race for the championship.

The Red Wolves took its blend of experience and youth to the Pitt County Easter Tournament at Farmville Central High School last week and got the best of both worlds in the opening game of a doubleheader against Southwest Edgecombe.

Despite a dry start offensively, Red Wolves senior pitcher Joel Davis and sophomore Aidan Ryan  held the Cougars without a hit in the final three innings as Cedar Ridge put up four runs in the fifth inning to win 5-2.

Davis earned his second win in as many weeks, striking out seven over five-and-two-thirds innings. He limited the Cougars to four hits as Cedar Ridge improved to 6-4.

Cedar Ridge went into spring break trailing Southern Alamance by one game for first place in the Central Conference. Person, who Cedar Ridge swept in a two-game series the week prior, bounced back to sweep the Patriots last week, including a 2-1 pitcher’s dual in Roxboro where the Rockets won despite registering just two hits.

The Red Wolves are now atop the Central Conference with a 3-1 league mark with a two-game series against crosstown rival Orange starting on Tuesday at Red Wolves Field. Cedar Ridge is scheduled to travel to Orange on Friday. Orange is 1-1 in league play.

The Cougars put runners in motion to jump ahead in the first inning. After leadoff batter Trent Nichols drew a walk, he stole second and third base. Right fielder Logan Webb knocked in Nichols after a Red Wolf error. After Red Wolf first baseman Mason Cates retired Parker Gay with a groundout, Webb advanced to second, then stole third. Tyler Mears hit a sacrifice fly to Quinn Finnegan to score Mears.

Cedar Ridge struggled offensively in the early going. While they did draw five walks in the opening four innings against Gay and Blayde Hinton, who came on in the second inning on the mound, the Red Wolves failed to get a hit.

Despite early hiccups, Davis contained the Cougars to just four hits over the next four innings. Cedar Ridge broke through in the fifth when sophomore Nick Aitkin drew a leadoff walk. Cates drilled a double down the left field line. Ian McGuffey sent a bouncing ball to Gay at third base, who threw it wide of first base, allowing Aitkin to score. Freshman John Grove sent an RBI single to left field to bring in Cates and tie the game. With one out, designated hitter Kevin Jones lined a single to left field to score McGuffey and Grove.

After Tyson Ayers drew a two-out walk in the sixth inning, Ryan replaced Davis on the mound and induced a pop-up from Hinton to escape the inning with Cedar Ridge maintaining a 4-2 lead.

McGuffey stroked a double to start the seventh inning. Grove sent a bouncing ball to Turner Cooke at second, allowing McGuffey to advance to third. Finnegan sent a sacrifice fly to right field to score McGuffey and extend the Red Wolf lead.

Ryan earned his first career save when Gay lined out to second baseman Grant McGuffey, who easily doubled up Logan Webb at first.

In the second game of the doubleheader, Farmville Central jumped out to a 5-1 lead and wound up winning 6-2. It ended Cedar Ridge’s four-game winning streak. Grove finished 2-for-4, including an RBI single in the third inning. Finnegan scored the opening run after a double steal from senior Landon Dalehite.

Horton hits two home runs as Orange baseball beats Northern Guilford in Hilltop Invitational

Mother Nature is taking away some of Orange baseball’s traditional mileposts.

The annual trip to Fleming Stadium in Wilson was washed away last week, canceling the Panthers rematch against Perquimans and atone from a dismal outing in 2022 when the Pirates belted Orange 13-0 on its way to the 1A State Championship.

The Hilltop Invitational is a spring break tradition where the Panthers typically play three games against no conference opposition. Once again, torrential rain got in the way, limiting the event to a lone matchup against Northern Guilford last Tuesday.

If there was a downside in the game against the Nighthawks, it was that Orange didn’t have a base hit with a runner in scoring position.

But who needs a hit when you can simply knock it over the fence?

Senior Ryan Horton hit two home runs and the Panthers finished with four dingers to beat Northern Guilford 8-4 at Panthers Field.

Horton became the first Panther to hit two home runs in the same game since Dante DeFranco did it against Northern Durham on April 23, 2019, which was also the last time the Panthers had four home runs in a game. DeFranco is now a starter with the Charlotte 49ers.

Orange (6-3) completed a string of two wins over two days. On Monday, the Panthers defeated Western Alamance 10-1 to gain a split of a two-game series that started on March 19.

Senior Josiah Gibbs threw four innings of relief to earn his 13th career win. In 2023, when Orange’s top two pitchers Cross Clayton and Ryan Hench battled injury woes, Gibbs led the team with seven wins.

Northern Guilford’s R.J. Smith opened the game with a leadoff walk against freshman Orange starter Oliver Van Tiem. After stealing second, Smith advanced to third off a passed ball and scored off a sacrifice fly hit to the left field fence by Conner Roy, which was caught by Kayden Bradsher.

Orange erased that quickly with a five-run first inning. Wyatt Hedrick drew a walk. Then came the start of the home run parade from senior Cameron Guentensberger, who wacked a 3-1 fastball over the centerfield fence for a two-run blast. It was Guentensberger’s second career home run.

With two outs, Horton took a 2-0 curveball over the left field fence, the most shallow part of Orange’s park that makes it a nightmare for left-handed pitchers. It extended Orange’s lead to 3-0 and they weren’t done yet.

Senior Ryan Honeycutt, in his second start of the season after suffering a broken thumb playing basketball in February, grounded a single up the middle. Van Tiem then hit his second home run in as many games, this time to the left field power ally.

The Nighthawks built a threat in the second inning with pitcher Elliott Flowers and catcher Nathaniel Lorczak drawing walks. Kevin McField came on as a courtesy runner for Flowers while Thomas Hooks replaced Lorczak. McField got to third base, but Smith grounded out to Hedrick at third base to end the inning.

Horton added his second home run over the center field fence in the bottom of the third to increase Orange’s lead to 6-1.

In the fifth, Guentensberger manufactured a run with his legs. After getting hit in the midsection with a pitch, he rounded the bases and scored off three separate wild pitches.

Second baseman Henry Hoffman led off the sixth with a walk. After going to second on another wild pitch, Bradsher moved him over with a single. Hedrick hit a fly ball off a sacrifice fly to centerfield, which was caught by Smith, to score Hoffman.

Northern Guilford’s Elijah Breedlove and Murphy Rayle both scored in the seventh inning after they each drew walks. McField knocked in Breedlove with a sacrifice fly. Roy hit a line drive single to plate Rayle.



Cedar Ridge Red Wolf of the Week: Kaden Tatro

This week’s Cedar Ridge Red Wolf of the Week is senior wrestler Kaden Tatro. This season, Tatro won the Central Conference Championship at 165 pounds at Walter Williams High School in Burlington. Tatro ended the year 49-5. He completed his career with 159 wins, the second-most in school history. This season, Tatro helped Cedar Ridge win the Central Conference regular season championship, their first team title at the 3A level and just their second regular season championship ever. He also helped Cedar Ridge beat crosstown rival Orange for the first time. Tatro won two conference championships in his career. He finished third in the Mideast Regional championships at 165 pounds. As a junior, Tatro helped Cedar Ridge win the Central Conference Tournament at Orange High School in February 2023. In his junior season, Tatro finished 54-8 and finished second at the Mideast Regional championships. He wound up finishing sixth in the 3A State Championships at the Greensboro Coliseum. Tatro’s name will forever be etched in Cedar Ridge wrestling history when his name on the all-time wins list is adorned inside the team’s wrestling room on a banner. Tatro also played lacrosse during the pandemic in 2021 when the Red Wolves made the state playoffs under the direction of former head coach Patrick Cavanaugh.

Orange baseball’s Jaden Bradsher & Oliver Van Tiem discuss win over Western Alamance

It was a strong bounce back performance for the Orange baseball team in the second game of its series against Western Alamance on Monday night. After losing to the Warriors last week in Elon, the Panthers defeated the Warriors 10-1 for its first Central Conference victory of the season. Freshman Kayden Bradsher started the game with a triple to right centerfield and would score the opening run off a groundout by Cameron Guentensberger. Freshman Oliver Van Tiem hit the first home run of his Panther career with a solo blast in the second inning. Orange jumped on mistakes by the Warriors, who committed six errors. Bradsher has been the leadoff hitter for all nine of Orange’s games. He finished 2-for-3 with two runs scored. Van Tiem has also played in all nine games and earned the start on the mound against Northern Guilford on Tuesday. Van Tiem had two RBIs against the Warriors. Bradsher was also a starter at wide receiver for the Orange football team last fall. The Panthers are 1-1 in the Central Conference and will face Cedar Ridge on Tuesday night at Red Wolves Field. The Panthers will host Cedar Ridge at Panther Field next Friday to conclude a crucial two-game series.

Cedar Ridge baseball’s Landon Dalehite & Ian McGuffey discuss win over Jordan-Matthews

Since he started playing baseball at Cedar Ridge, senior centerfielder Landon Dalehite has wanted to do the worm move as a runner at first base. Sure enough, Dalehite finally got the opportunity when the Red Wolves played Jordan-Matthews on March 13. With Grant McGuffey at third base, Dalehite fell down face-first to the ground at first in an attempt to draw a throw from pitcher Payton White in order to get McGuffey home. It worked, McGuffey scored as the Red Wolves went on to win 15-5 in six innings. Ian McGuffey went 2-for-3 with three runs scored against the Jets. He also finished the game on the mound, throwing two innings of shutout baseball, striking out four. It was his second hold of the season. Dalehite scored the Red Wolves first run. Cedar Ridge scored eight runs in the sixth inning to secure its first run-rule victory of the year. Cedar Ridge is 6-4 and is tied for first place in the Central Conference after sweeping a two-game series with Person last week. Freshman Joel Davis earned his first win against Jordan-Matthews, striking out five over four innings. Cedar Ridge will return to action against crosstown rival Orange at Red Wolves Stadium on Tuesday night. The series will continue at Orange High Field next Friday. 

Orange lacrosse Connor Kruse discusses 200th career assist in win vs. Northwood.

Orange senior Connor Kruse had already etched his name into the Orange High lacrosse record books a long time ago. Now, he has put his name into the national record books. On Monday night, Kruse tied a national record by registering 16 assists in Orange’s 18-5 win over Southern Alamance at Redmond Stadium in Graham. Kruse tied the record set by Ryan Stadiumelmaier of Midland-Dow High School in Michigan set in 2022. Along the way, Kruse became the first player in Orange history to surpass 400 points. Last week, Kruse became the first player to eclipse 200 career assists in Orange’s 14-1 win over Northwood at Auman Stadium. Kruse finished with one goal and three assists against the Chargers. After its win over the Patriots, the Panthers improved to 10-0, 7-0 in the Mid-Carolina Conference. Last winter, Kruse signed to play with Lenoir-Rhyne, which won the Division II National Championship last year in Philadelphia. Against Northwood, senior Bryce Nelson earned a gaol. Earning the win as goalkeeper was freshman Jackson Runkle, who played all 48 minutes. Runkle recently finished his first season with Orange wrestling. Orange lacrosse is off for the rest of this week to enjoy spring break. In the meantime, they will prepare for a difficult 4A opponent, Holly Springs, on April 4. 

Kruse ties national record with 16 assists, surpasses 400 career points, Orange lax beats Southern Alamance 18-5

Connor Kruse has been setting records and milestones even before he started playing lacrosse at Orange.

In his last middle school game, he scored a goal right off the faceoff in a blowout win at Roxboro Community School. That was the final game before the pandemic set in, leading to middle school athletics being shut down for nearly 18 months.

No one knew it at the time, but it was also the final game in the long, storied athletic history of Stanford Chargers athletics before the name of the school was changed. It would be rebranded Orange Middle School in February 2021.

Kruse is now a senior and he owns almost every offensive record in the Orange lacrosse record book. On Monday night, he entered his name in a national record book.

Kruse tied the American record for most assists in a game with 16 in Orange’s 18-5 win over Southern Alamance at Redmond Stadium in Graham. The only other high school player in American high school history to have 16 assists in a game is Ryan Stadelmaier of Midland-Dow High in Michigan. In 2021, Stadlemaier had 16 assists against Linden High on May 20, 2022.

Stadelmaier is now playing lacrosse at Air Force, a member of the Division I Atlantic Sun Conference.

Kruse, the son of former North Carolina and Johns Hopkins lacrosse player Travis Kruse, became the first Orange lacrosse player to surpass 400 points in his career.

Last week, Kruse became the first Orange player to reach 200 career assists in a 14-1 win over Northwood at Auman Stadium in Hillsborough. Kruse’s feed to Gray Crabtree with 2:07 remaining in the second quarter put the Panthers ahead 7-0 and earned him another milestone in Orange history. Kruse finished the night with one goal and three assists.

“I’ve played with a lot of guys here who have done some great things,” Kruse said after last Thursday’s win over the Chargers. “There’s a lot of guys who have contributed to that. Ryan Merrill (who graduated in 2022) all the way to today with Brett (Clark) and Brandon Williams, there’s just a lot of guys who have helped me get to that point. I’d just like to thank them for helping me.”

Kruse also owns the Orange record for 170 goals coming into this season.

Kruse is after more than just records in his final games at Orange. The Panthers are 10-0, 7-0 in the Mid-Carolina Conference. Kruse was a member of the first Orange lacrosse team to win a conference championship in 2021. Since then, Orange has added two more league titles to its collection and has hosted the 3A/2A/1A Eastern Regional championship game each of the last two years.

Now, Kruse is hunting for a regional championship. It appeared that last year would be Orange’s time when they faced Northwood at Auman Stadium, a team the Panthers had defeated five straight times. But the Chargers came away with a 10-8 victory in Hillsborough.

Under head coach Chandler Zirkle, the Panthers are off to its best start in team history. They have wins over 4A teams Apex, Pinecrest and Jordan.

“Those 4A games at the beginning of the year helped us,” Kruse said. “We’re just focused on trying to get better every day.”

The win over Southern Alamance on Monday night ended a stretch of four games over six days for the Panthers. On Friday night, Orange defeated Western Alamance 17-5 at Primm Stadium in Elon. Kruse finished with six goals and three assists. Clark came away with four goals and one assist.

Last December, Kruse officially signed to play with Lenoir-Rhyne, which won the Division II national championship last year. The Bears defeated Mercyhurst 20-5 in Philadelphia to win the first national championship in team history.

Cates goes 3-for-4, Finnegan earns win as Cedar Ridge Baseball sweeps Person in Roxboro

The Cedar Ridge baseball team doesn’t mind bad weather when it travels to Roxboro.

Last year, the Red Wolves ventured into Person County and fell behind 10-6 amid frigid temperatures that Cedar Ridge coach Bryson Massey called “the coldest he has ever been in.”

The Red Wolves fought back to win after Ian McGuffey laid down a suicide squeeze bunt to score B.J. Thornton and escape with an 11-10 win to rush back to the team bus and get the heater turned on for a joyous trip back to Hillsborough.

Last Friday, the Red Wolves didn’t deal with cold as much as it was rain. Scattered showers throughout the day left the conditions damp, but Cedar Ridge didn’t need a dramatic finish to emerge from Person with a series sweep.

Cedar Ridge bolted ahead with three runs in each of the first two innings behind a 3-for-3 day from senior first baseman Mason Cates and rolled 13-5 at Rockets Field. Junior Quinn Finnegan earned his first win on the mound this season, allowing three unearned runs.

It was a badly needed win as the Red Wolves try to chase down Southern Alamance, which has immediately established itself as the team to beat in the Central Conference. The Patriots, in its first year in the league, are 4-0 after sweeping two-games series from Eastern Alamance and Walter Williams.

Cedar Ridge ended last week 5-3 overall, 3-1 in the Central Conference.

The Red Wolves nearly had a run-rule victory over Person. The Rockets trailed 11-0 going into the bottom of the fourth inning, but the Rockets were able to extend the game after scoring three runs in the fourth inning.

Cates started the game with a single to right field. Ian McGuffey laid down a sacrifice bunt and was able to reach after Person pitcher Ian Downey threw the ball away, leading Cates to score. Freshman John Grove lined a double to left field to bring in McGuffey. After designated hitter Kevin Jones reached on an error, Grove scored on a passed ball with Grant McGuffey at bat.

Finnegan set the Rockets down in order in the first inning.

Sophomore Aidan Ryan, starting in left field, reached after an error by Person second baseman Brady Holmes to start the second inning. Nick Aitkin sent a pop fly to shallow right field that dropped between three Rockets that converged on it. Cates sent a grounder to right field for a single that loaded the bases. Ian McGuffery drew a bases-loaded walk to put the Red Wolves ahead 4-0. With two outs, Jones drew another bases-loaded walk to plate Aitkin. Grant McGuffey got a run battered in when he was hit by a pitch, plating Cates.

Cedar Ridge added three more runs in the fourth inning when Jones doubled down the right field line, scoring Finnegan, who got beaned to start the frame. Caden Thompson, running for Jones, scored off a wild pitch with Landon Dalehite at bat, putting the Red Wolves lead at 8-0. With runners at the corners, Dalehite drew a throw from pitcher Jackson Riggan as he tried to steal second, allowing Grant McGuffey to steal home. Dalehite would wind up scoring after stealing third base, and then stealing home to put the Red Wolves ahead 10-0.

After Cates was hit by a pitch, Ian McGuffey sent a line drive to centerfield to score Cates from first base.

After the Rockets scored three in the fourth inning to cut the Red Wolves lead to 11-3, Finnegan started the fifth inning by getting hit by a pitch, then stole second and third bases. Grant McGuffey would knock in Finnegan with a grounder to the shortstop, which was misplayed by Holmes and increased the Cedar Ridge lead to 12-3.

Finnegan struck out five batters over four innings. Ian McGuffey finished out the game with two innings of relief.