By Emmanuel Morgan
CORNELIUS – Hough High’s baseball team defeated North Mecklenburg 7-2 in the MECKA 4A conference championship game May 9.
The Huskies advanced to the state playoffs with a 21-6 record and the conference’s No. 1 seed. North Mecklenburg entered the postseason with a 17-8 record.
In the early innings, it was evident that Hough had prepared. Despite the confusion that afternoon caused by the questionable weather, the Huskies made it clear they were focused on winning a conference championship. The two squads met twice during the regular season with North Mecklenburg winning both.
Hough snatched a 2-0 lead after one inning of the title game.
The story remained the same for the second inning. The Huskies had multiple hits and combined with North Mecklenburg errors, building a 5-0 lead.
North Mecklenburg refused to settle quietly and fought back to cut Hough’s lead to 5-2 in the fifth inning. The Vikings defense improved, but they couldn’t overcome the Huskies’ early deficit.
“We made a few mistakes early, but I always tell my guys, it’s not about how many errors you make, but how you bounce back after them,” North Mecklenburg coach Sean Ryan said. “Tonight we tried our best but it wasn’t strong enough. This game will have no effect on the state tournament; my guys are ready to work.”
Said Hough coach Jimmy Cochran: “We were successful tonight because we hit with runners in good position. It was not a strong game on our part … our defense was shaky at some points but we got the job done.”
Cochran also credited much of his team’s success to his pitcher Justin Baker. He has been this season’s workhorse on the mound, having a spotless record at 9-0. Baker had five strikeouts and limited North Mecklenburg to four hits in seven innings during the conference championship.
Cochran feels his team will have a solid postseason run.
“We have to prove ourselves again,” he said. “My guys are hungry so we have to prepare to compete.”