Photo from Dave Lindaman. For more information, go to https://orangesportslindaman.smugmug.com/
Regardless of whether your wear burgundy or orange, there’s a piece of news that everyone can be happy about.
The March snow appears to be officially gone for 2018.
Its much aniticpated departure will lead to temperatures in the 70s, just in time for a crucial two-game baseball series between Orange and Cedar Ridge starting Tuesday at OHS (first pitch at 6).
Last May, Cedar Ridge captured the series finale from its crosstown rivals 6-0. It was the first time the Red Wolves defeated Orange since 2012.
This week, there’s more than bragging rights on the line.
In the new look Big 8 Conference, there are six very good baseball teams and only four guaranteed state playoff spots.
Orange enters the week tied for first in the Big 8 with Northwood, East Chapel Hill and Chapel Hill with a 3-1 league record. Cedar Ridge comes in tied with Northern Durham for 5th at 2-2.
The Red Wolves received a tough draw to open conference play. Its first three Big 8 series are against the top teams from the Big 8 from 2017. The Red Wolves split their opening two-game series against defending Big 8 Champion Northwood and runner-up Chapel Hill (who tied with Orange for 2nd). The good news is they close the season with less-seasoned teams Southern Durham and Hillside.
Orange, 5-4 overall after losing to C.B. Aycock 7-2 on Saturday in Wilson, quickly swept Hillside in a doubleheader on Friday by scores of 12-0 and 11-1.
The opening pitching matchup on Tuesday will likely match two hurlers who threw their best games at the end of last season.
Cedar Ridge junior Phil Berger tossed a one-hitter against Orange last year, and that was on an infield single by Jason Slaughter which could have easily been scored an error. The following week, Berger earned the victory in a 4-1 victory over Nash Central in the opening round of the 3A state playoffs. Against the Bulldogs, Berger yielded just three hits, striking out five.
Berger will be opposed by Orange senior Will White, who also took a win in the 3A state playoffs last spring when he held Southern Lee to four hits in a 2-1 win in Sanford. This season, White is 2-1 after wins over Eden Morehead and Hillside, along with a 7-5 loss to East Chapel Hill.
Both teams have plenty of experience from last year. Cedar Ridge has seven starters back from last season. Only Brandon Andrews and Simon Little graduated for the Red Wolves.
Orange has six starters back after losing first baseman Eric Nichols, catcher/pitcher Ryan Puckett and catcher Dylan Hall.
The Red Wolves have power with 1st baseman Chris Cox, who has two homers this season. CRHS’ middle infield tandem of Jake and Dante DeFranco are usually in the top of the batting order and solid contact hitters.
For Orange, leadoff batter Jaydin Poteat has stolen eleven bases this season. Catch Caige Clayton swatted a two-run homer in the 8th inning of a crucial 9-8 win at East Chapel Hill on March 16th.
It’s also the final series for both teams before Easter break, which means both teams are gearing up for the Hilltop Invitational. Orange and Cedar Ridge will host three games over the course of three days starting next Thursday. Cedar Ridge will host First Colonia (of Virginia Beach, Virgnia) on Thursday, April 5th; Wake County HomeSchool on April 6th and Jordan on April 7th.
Orange will welcome Wake County HomeSchool on April 5th; First Colonia on April 6th and Panther Creek on April 7th.