Macon East sweeps away Clarke Prep for state baseball title
By Tim Gayle
Connor Davis was hitting everything. Fastballs, curveballs, even opposing batters.
The Macon East Academy ace wasn’t at his best on the mound, hitting five opposing batters with pitches, but more than made up for it at the plate by scoring a run and driving in four more in the first game and scoring two more runs in the second game as the Knights swept Clarke Prep 8-4 and 6-0 in the Alabama Independent School Association Class AA state baseball championship at Paterson Field on Tuesday afternoon.
The championship was the first for Macon East (33-13) since 2004.
“It means a lot to us because we were here two years ago when we lost to Edgewood,” Davis said. “We’ve been working since then to get here.”
Davis surrendered three hits in 3.1 innings of work, but was responsible for all four runs in a 4-4 tie because of two walks and five hit batters. At the plate, his two-run double in the first put Macon ahead 2-0 (before he hit two batters that came around to score and tie the game) and his run in the fifth broke a 5-5 tie and made a winner out of reliever Mason Wray.
He added a two-run single in the sixth for insurance.
“I was pretty nervous,” Davis said. “You always get another chance and you have to do your part on the team to help the team out. Just play for everybody else.”
Kohner Massey was masterful in the second game, holding Clarke Prep (28-12) to four hits while striking out seven.
Both Massey and head coach Bob Pickett both credited pitching coach (and athletic director) Jim Brantley with getting the Knights in the right mindset to win a state championship.
“We got here two years ago and a lot of these guys were young (then),” Pickett said. “For the school, it’s huge. One of the biggest things, I thought, is Coach Brantley coming back this year to be the pitching coach. Our pitchers have been excellent all year. That’s where we’re where we’re at is because of the pitching.”
“The errors, it was one thing we had to work on with our pitching coach and not let the emotions get to us,” Massey added. “Once we started learning how to do that, we commanded the zone and played our game.”
Davis went 4 for 6 with 4 RBIs in the two games, while Will Dowe went 3 for 6 with 5 RBIs.
“We came out and worked hard every day,” said Macon junior catcher Drew Baker, whose brother Chris Ivey was a member of the 2004 team. “Two years ago, we were stunned because we lost it, but now coming in this year and getting it done feels good.”
Davis was selected as the tournament’s most valuable player. Joining him on the AA all-tournament team were Wray, Massey and Dowe of Macon East and Patrick Dunn, Dillon Smith and Reese Powell of Clarke Prep.