Knights fall in title game
The Ardrey Kell baseball team enjoyed a magical run that ended in a 10-6 loss to Fuquay Varina in the final game of the best-of-three NCHSAA championship series in Zebulon on June 3.
The Knights got off to a great start, winning Game 1 by dominating the Bengals 3-0 on June 1.
South Carolina commit Trey Tujetsch performed double duty to stake the Knights to a 1-0 series lead. Tujetsch threw six innings of shutout ball, striking out 10 batters, and along with Parker Ledford, hit one of two back-to-back doubles that gave the Knights all three of their runs in the third inning.
But Game 2 would be different. The Knights could muster just three hits all game off a trio of Bengal pitchers.
A double by Ledford in the fifth inning gave the Knights a 2-1 advantage in the fifth inning, but in the bottom of the inning the Bengals scored twice to take a 3-2 lead that would hold up to be the final score.
Garrett McGraw preserved the win by tossing two hitless innings to earn the save as Fuquay Varina forced the decisive third game.
In the final, the Bengals jumped out to a 4-0 lead after two innings of play. The Knights would tie the game in the third on RBIs from Cam Brantley, Tujetsch, Ledford and a run from Joe Verdeschi, who scored on a wild pitch.
The score was tied at 6 entering the top of the seventh inning, but the Bengals, who clubbed 13 hits in the game, scored four more times for the 10-6 win.
The Knights have played in three state championship final series, winning in 2009 after losing in 2008. Ardrey Kell finished the season 27-7.
Former Knight Kowar chosen by Kansas City in MLB Draft
Former Charlotte Christian and current University of Florida star Jackson Kowar was selected by the Kansas City Royals with the 33rd overall pick in the compensatory section of first round of the 2018 MLB Draft on June 4.
At Charlotte Christian, Kowar was ranked as the No. 4 overall prospect in the state and as the No. 1 right-handed pitcher by Perfect game.com. As a senior during the 2015 season, he finished with a 10-1 record that included a school-record 0.20 earned run average. Kowar also totaled 118 strikeouts in just 71 innings.
In the playoffs during Kowar’s senior season, he was brilliant.
He tossed a one-hit shutout with eight strikeouts in the semifinals and Kowar clinched the Knights’ fifth consecutive state title by beating Wesleyan Christian 7-0 in the championship game during which he allowed three hits and struck out 14 batters.
Kowar was drafted by the Detroit Tigers with the 1,210th overall pick (40th round) of the MLB Draft that season, but he elected to attend Florida instead.
Kowar went 3-0 in 12 appearances as a freshman and was 12-1 as a sophomore, posting the Gators’ best-ever record and placing second in the nation in wins.
This season, Kowar has gone 9-5 for the Gators.
As a junior, Kowar has the option of returning to school for his senior season, although he’s considered likely to sign with the Royals.
He was joined in the first round by University of Florida teammates Jonathan India (a third baseman taken fifth overall by the Cincinnati Reds) and Brady Singer (a pitcher drafted 18th overall by the Kansas City Royals).
Former Panther Moritz selected by Atlanta
CHARLOTTE – Former Providence High and current UNC Greensboro star Andrew Moritz has been drafted by the Atlanta Braves.
The Braves chose the outfielder in the sixth round with the 172nd overall selection.
Moritz starred for the Panthers, helping them win the 2015 state championship on a team that finished with a school-record 31 wins and a No. 22 national ranking by Maxpreps.com.
Moritz was an all-state performer his senior season, but was offered just one scholarship.
However, at UNC Greensboro, Moritz has starred since his first season.
He started 41 games and batted a Southern Conference best .400 and had 22 multi-hit games and drove in 33 runs while recording seven triples, which is tied for the second most in school history. He was also named the conference’s Freshman of the Year.
As a sophomore, Moritz was a first-team all-conference selection after batting .394 and scoring 60 runs with 38 RBIs, a team-best 16 steals and six triples.
Off the field, Moritz used his 3.9 grade-point-average to become the school’s first-ever CoSIDA First Team Academic All-American.
This past season, Moritz was named the Conference Player of the Year and a Baseball America third-team all-American. He batted .428, which was second-best in all of Division I baseball. He led the team in starts (54), hits (92), runs (57), triples (10), RBIs (61) and slugging percentage (.637).
Hounds trade draft pick for face-off specialist
CHARLOTTE – The Charlotte Hounds shook up their 25-man roster this week, trading for Atlanta Blaze faceoff specialist Jake Withers in exchange for a 2019 second-round pick.
“He gives us depth and consistency at the X,” head coach Jim Stagnitta said. “He has proven he can compete with the best in the league and as the unique skill set to create offense from the X.”
Withers, was a first-round draft pick out of Ohio State last season in Major League Lacrosse and The National Lacrosse League.
He played in eight games as a rookie for the Blaze and won 101-of-202 faceoffs at a 50 percent clip. He also scored three goals and added an assist totaling four points.