SILER CITY — Caleb Staley came within two pitches of hurling a perfect game in holding Chatham Charter without a hit while league-leading Chatham Central took advantage of seven errors by the …
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SILER CITY — Caleb Staley came within two pitches of hurling a perfect game in holding Chatham Charter without a hit while league-leading Chatham Central took advantage of seven errors by the Knights to nab a 4-0 Central Tar Heel 1A Conference victory Wednesday night on the losers’ field.
The triumph elevated the Bears to 6-0 atop the league standings and 9-7 overall, while Chatham Charter sank to 7-2 in the conference and 8-4 for the year.
Becoming the first Chatham Central pitcher to toss a no-hitter since Zack Burke accomplished the feat against South Davidson on April 28, 2014, Staley matched his season high of 12 strikeouts while only permitting a pair of base runners.
After issuing a full-count walk to Jaron Hendrickson leading off the bottom of the second and plunking Noah Carter on a 1-2 pitch with two away in the same inning, the senior southpaw retired the last 16 batters he faced while throwing a total of 95 pitches, including 62 (65 percent) for strikes.
“I felt real comfortable on the mound tonight,” said Staley. “I threw mainly fast balls and had confidence that my teammates would make plays behind me in the field, and they did.”
Bears’ coach Brett Walden remarked it was important to get a complete game from Staley with his team playing three games in three days.
“I felt like Caleb understood the magnitude of the game and didn’t try to do too much other than just pitch,” Walden said.
“He worked ahead for the most part so they had to try and hit his pitch. When he throws well we have a chance to win games where we aren’t great offensively.”
Freshman Landon Hussey started on the hill for the Knights and suffered the loss after the left-hander allowed six hits and three runs (one earned) while fanning two.
Reliever Connor Murphy threw the final two frames and gave up one hit plus an unearned run besides whiffing one.
“I didn’t think Landon pitched all that bad, but mistakes in the field killed us,” said Chatham Charter coach Bill Slaughter. “If we make the routine plays it could have been a 1-0 ball game. Staley was in control all night and did a great job. We just didn’t have an answer for him because we couldn’t get anybody on base and put any pressure on him.”
Chatham Central gave Staley all the offensive support he needed when the Bears forged a 1-0 advantage in the top of the second. Jackson Gray notched a one-out infield single, went to second when Holden Johnson bunted his way on base and came in to score on a throwing error.
The winners boosted their lead to 2-0 in the visitors’ fourth as Carter Fuquay opened the inning by reaching first when his infield pop-up was dropped.
After Fuquay advanced to second when Drew Cox reached on a throwing error, Gray sacrificed both runners up a base prior to Zach Ritter bringing Fuquay home with a sacrifice fly to center.
Chatham Central stretched its advantage to 3-0 in the top of the fifth as Michael Moore lined a leadoff base hit to center and was sacrificed to second by Tyson Measamer before Staley helped his own cause by stroking a run-scoring opposite-field double to left.
The Bears then proceeded to plate the game’s final run in the visitors’ seventh. Lofton Dodson led off the frame by grounding an opposite-field single to right and raced to third as Moore reached on an infield miscue prior to dashing home when Measamer lofted a sacrifice fly to center.