Weddington led most of the way, blew it open with seven runs in the seventh and then hung on to defeat D.H. Conley 17-14 early Sunday morning in the third and final game of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association state 3-A baseball championship series at NewBridge Bank Park.
The Warriors took the series two games to one. Daniel Calabretta of Weddington, who hit for the cycle in the wild contest, had four of the Warriors’ 17 hits and scored four times to earn the championship series Most Valuable Player award.
Jeff Welch was four for five for the winners and drove in three runs, and he was eight for 11 in the series. For Conley, Matt Boyd had a big night with four hits, including a pair of doubles, in five at bats and four RBI.
Weddington led 17-7 in the seventh, with a key blow a bases loaded double by Welch with two outs which cleared the bases. However, the Vikings made it interesting by answering with seven of their own in the bottom of the seventh before the game ended just after midnight. Ryan Maness had a bloop single that scored two for the Vikings and brought the tying run to the plate before Graham Wadsworth retired Bryant Packard to end the game.
Weddington opened up a 3-0 lead early, but the Vikings battled back and finally took the advantage when Boyd delivered a two-out, two-run double in the bottom of the third to give Conley the lead for the first time at 4-3.
The Warriors answered with Chris Simpson’s two-out, two-run single with the bases loaded knotting the game at 5-5 in the fourth, and then Weddington's Davis Norred smacked a two-run single with the bases loaded to put the Warriors up 7-5.
Calabretta lined a long two-run homer out in the top of the fifth for a 9-5 advantage, followed by a run-scoring double by Chris Simpson to deep center to make it 10-5.
The Vikings sliced into the margin when Boyd delivered another two-out double in the bottom of the fifth to make it 10-6, but he was gunned down trying to stretch it to three by centerfielder Alex Bostic.
Tyler Garrett’s single knocked in Aaron Martin, who had opened the sixth with a base it, to put Conley to within 10-7, but Weddington exploded for seven runs in the top of the seventh.
Conley had won the second game of the series earlier on Saturday, outlasting the Bulldogs 7-6, paced by three hits apiece by Maness and Michael Fuller. Weddington won the opening game on Friday night by 12-5 as Sean Collins drove in five runs.
Weddington, which won the state title last year, finished 24-11 overall while Conley ended 28-5. The Vikings were in the championship for the third time, with previous state crowns in 2005 and ’06.
This is the 97th year for baseball championships in the NCHSAA.