The annual ZooKeepers Easter Showdown was a huge success even though we lost a day of play due to weather. The tournament was designed to have four Randolph County high school baseball teams battle against four non-Randolph County teams. This year representing Randolph County were Southwestern Randolph, Eastern Randolph, Providence Grove, and Wheatmore. Jordan-Matthews, North Moore, Apex Friendship, and Chapel Hill made up the other four teams in the tournament.

Although the third and final day of the tournament was rained out, each team was able to play two complete games and compete at a high level. Apex Friendship and Chapel Hill both went 2-0 in the tournament. Apex Friendship’s lefty pitcher, Nick Farrar, was scouted and offered at the tournament by North Carolina State University, to which he committed. Congratulations go out to his team and family.

Each of the games played had thrilling moments in them. Chapel Hill had two exciting comeback wins against Southwestern Randolph (12-10) and Wheatmore (6-4). Southwestern Randolph had an exciting win as well over North Moore (10-9). The scores in the other games played in the tournament did not adequately portray the play or the approach to the game. The ZK staff were extremely impressed with each team’s respect for the game, their competitive drive their ability to overcome adversity throughout the games. On Tuesday, after each game was completed, both teams circled the mound and said a prayer together in honor of Easter week. This was a special moment in which each team could pray for one another, for the remainder of their seasons, and to view each other as people that love the same sport and not just as competitors.

Locally, our Randolph County team’s head coaches were able to share their thoughts with our local radio broadcasters and had the following to say about their teams to them. Wheatmore coach Trey Byrd had to have been proud of the effort the Warriors gave as WHS recorded a 9-0 win over J-M on the first day and battled 4-A Chapel Hill down to the wire in the second game. The Warriors trailed 5-0 at one point before rallying to make it 6-4. WHS put the tying run in scoring position in the seventh inning, but couldn’t find a way to bring him home. “Really, I just wanted to see us continue to battle,” Byrd said. “It was easy for us to shut down when adversity hit, but we continued to battle and we fought to the last inning and the last pitch. We need to continue to fight and scrape out our at-bats.” About half of the Warriors’ roster consists of underclassmen. “With them being as young as they are, it’s that more promising of a future,” Byrd said. Mason Rich had two hits and two RBIs, Jake Parks had a double, RBI and run and Sean Jennings got the win against J-M, giving up just three hits with seven strikeouts in six innings. Parks had two hits, Clay Hill had a couple of hits, and Rowan Wagner had two hits in the narrow loss to Chapel Hill. Providence Grove was involved in a pair of shutouts, falling 10-0 to Apex Friendship in five innings as Friendship’s Luke Hemreck didn’t allow a hit. He walked two and struck out eight. “The first game we played, we faced a really good pitcher who was around the plate and kept the ball down and we couldn’t get anything started,” PG coach Glen Hunt said. The Patriots rebounded with a resounding 13-0 win over J-M in the tournament’s final game on Thursday afternoon. PG recorded 13 hits in its second game, with Joe Coltrane getting three and Andrew Canter and Josh Ward recording two each. Lemuel Coltrane and Tyler Foust drove in three each and Canter got the win on the mound, surrendering six hits with seven strikeouts. “We hit the ball much better and we jumped on them better,” Hunt said. “Andrew Canter had a great day on the mound and Andrew Thomas made some nice defensive plays. It was good to see us hit the ball. Hopefully, we can take what we did (Thursday) and take it into next week.”

We would like to thank each team for attending, Southwestern Randolph HS for allowing us to use their facility, Coach Ethan Marsh for preparing the fields for each game, Sportstone for coming out and broadcasting the games, the staff that worked tirelessly to put on a good tournament and the families and fans that gave such wonderful support to their teams.

We look forward to having this tournament in our newly renovated stadium next year and making it bigger and better every year to come.

The final game scores were as follows:

Eastern Randolph 13 vs. North Moore 5
Apex Friendship 10 vs. Providence Grove 0
Wheatmore 9 vs. Jordan-Matthews 0
Chapel Hill 12 vs. Southwestern Randolph 10
Apex Friendship 11 vs. Eastern Randolph 1
Chapel Hill 6 vs. Wheatmore 4
Southwestern Randolph 10 vs. North Moore 9

Providence Grove 13 vs. Jordan-Matthews 0