Orange’s Wyatt Hedrick & Cameron Guentensberger discuss miracle comeback win over Triton

It was the greatest comeback in Orange baseball history. The Panthers were down 8-3 after they surrendered five runs in the top of the 10th inning to Triton. But Orange rallied for an incredible six runs in the bottom-of-the-10th to win 9-8 in the 2nd round of the 3A State Playoffs. Wyatt Hedrick smacked the game-winning single to score Cameron Guentensberger. Earlier in the inning, with Orange trailing 8-3, Horton drew a one-out walk, which started the comeback. Horton eventually scored when Ryan Hench was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. Guentensberger had an RBI single in the first inning. In the 10th, he smacked a two-run single to left field. Guentensberger finished 4-for-5 with two RBIs. He also picked up the win on the mound. Hedrick had his first career three-hit game. He finished 3-for-5 with an RBI. Hedrick has been a part-time starter for most of this season, but now appears likely to see more time at second base. Orange will look ahead to Cape Fear on Tuesday night in Hillsborough. The Colts defeated West Carteret in Morehead City. Orange is now 24-2. That’s the most wins for the team in a single season since the 2013 squad when Bryse Wilson was a freshman. It was a special day for the Guentensberger family. In Boone, Cameron’s brother Colin, a former Orange High right fielder, graduated from Appalachian State.

Orange baseball’s Ryan Hench and Cameron Guentensberger discuss winning the CCC title

For the third year in a row, the Orange baseball team has won a conference championship. And that may not be the only milestone the Panthers achieve this year. On Tuesday night, the Panthers defeated Eastern Alamance 10-1. It secured Orange’s 19th win of the season. The last Orange team to win 20 games in the regular season was the 2014 squad, which played 23 games in the regular season. This Orange team will end the regular season with 22 games. Senior pitcher Ryan Hench made his return to the mound against the Eagles after being injured on March 8 against Greensboro Grimsley. Hench blasted a two-run homer in the sixth inning to put the Panthers ahead 7-1. Junior centerfielder Cameron Guentensberger had another strong night at the plate, going 3-for-5 with three RBIs. Guentensberger also had five catches in centerfield. Josiah Gibbs earned his team-leading sixth win of the season, throwing three innings and allowing only one hit. Orange will finish its regular season tonight (Thursday) against Eastern Alamance. With the conference championship, Orange will have a bye into the semifinals of next week’s CCC Tournament. They will also have home-field advantage for the tournament.

Cedar Ridge notebook: Thornton strikes out 10 in baseball win; softball, men’s tennis scores

Baseball: Cedar Ridge 11, Eastern Alamance 5:  After a gallant but disappointing loss to Orange last week, the Cedar Ridge baseball team got a big effort from senior B.J. Thornton on the mound and at the plate to roll past Eastern Alamance.

Thornton earned his third win of the season with a season-best ten strikeouts over five-and-two-thirds innings. At the plate, Thornton went 3-for-5 with five RBI as Cedar Ridge (7-6, 4-5 in the Central Carolina Conference) scored four runs in the first inning to take control early.

Thornton also knocked in the first run off a sacrifice fly to score Issac Anderson, who opened the game with a single to centerfield. Mason Cats, who reached on an infield single, scored off a base hit by Landon Dalehite to left field. Nick Aitkin drove a single up the middle to bring in Dalehite and Grant McGuffey.

Cedar Ridge loaded the bases to open the second. Cates and Quinn Finnegan each walked. Thornton lined a single to left field to bring in Tippin.

Eastern Alamance reduced its deficit to 5-3 at the end of the third inning, but Cedar Ridge recovered in the top of the fourth. Tippin walked and Anderson got aboard off a single to left field. Thornton looped a single to right field to score Tippin to put Cedar Ridge ahead 6-3.

Thornton set the Eagles down in order in the fourth. Aitkin lined a one-out double to right field to start the fifth. With two out and Tippin at bat, Aitkin scored off a passed ball. Tippin went on to single on a hard grounder to centerfield. Anderson and Cates walked to load the bases. Finnegan lined a single to centerfield to bring in Tippin and Anderson.

The Red Wolves added two more runs in the seventh. Anderson was hit by a pitch. Cates reached on an infield single. With two out, Thornton sent a double that one-hopped the left field wall that brought in Anderson and Cates.

Cedar Ridge put up 12 hits. Aitkin, a sophomore, went 2-for-4 with two RBIs and a double. Anderson, hitting leadoff, scored three runs. He finished 2-for-2 with a walk.

It’s the second straight year that the Red Wolves have won at Eastern Alamance. Last year, the Red Wolves opened a doubleheader against the Eagles by rallying from a 5-2 deficit in the seventh inning The Red Wolves scored six runs in the final inning to pull away with a 8-5 win. Quinn Finnegan earned the save as Cedar Ridge eventually earned the sweep of the doubleheader, which helped them reach the state playoffs for the first time since 2018.

Softball: Falls Lake 14, Cedar Ridge 4: For the second straight night, the Falls Lake Firebirds came to Hillsborough and emerged victorious.

On Monday, Falls Lake defeated Orange. On Tuesday, they puled up 19 hits in a win over Cedar Ridge. Freshman Mia Best hit an inside-the-park home run to lead off the first inning. Sophomore Kimber Shambley went 2-for-2 with a triple. Senior Anaya Carter, playing centerfield, went 2-for-4 with a run scoresd.

Reagan Simmons finished 2-for-4 with an RBI.

Falls Lake’s Kennedy Teasley. who hit two home runs against Orange, had two doubles. Ashbee Standrige homered for the Firebirds, who improved to 7-5.

Men’s Tennis: Northwood 5, Cedar Ridge 4: In a tight match in Pittsboro, the Chargers held off the Red Wolves.

Cedar Ridge senior Josh Mayhew improved to 9-1 on the season with a 6-0, 6-0 win. In doubles, Mayhew teamed with Bowen Wood to win 8-2, which put the Red Wolves ahead in the dual match 4-3.

Mayhew, who played for the 3A State Singles championship last year, was the CCC Men’s Tennis Player of the Year in 2022.

Senior Walker Richards-Baker also won at #3 singles 6-4, 6-4. Sophomore Colin Fulcher defeated Northwood’s Colt Tudor 4-6, 6-1, 10-8 in a 10-point tiebreaker.

The Red Wolves are 3-7 overall, 2-5 in the CCC.


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.