GREENSBORO--Cheered on by the throng of Mooresville fans that made the trip, members of the Blue Devils baseball team stepped forward and accepted the 4A state championship trophy Saturday night after completing a two-game sweep of Corinth Holders in the finals at UNC Greensboro.
"I'm blown away," senior catcher Davis Turner said. "We knew we had this in us."
Just like they did in the series-opening win earlier in the day, the West region champion Blue Devils (24-9) rallied from a two-run deficit against the East region champion Pirates (23-8).
The 8-2 win in Game 2 clinched the program's first state title in Mooresville's first state finals appearance.
"Unbelievable," Mooresville coach Jeff Burchett said. "We hadn't played a doubleheader all season so this was something new. ... These are memories that will last a lifetime."
Corinth Holders appeared poised to take control of the second game during the top of the third inning. Mooresville pitcher Nick Merriman walked a couple of batters. The Pirates scored from third on a wild pitch and when Davis' attempted throw to third base hit the batter's bat and bounced back toward the their dugout.
After Merriman hit Landon Ginn with a pitch the Pirates executed a double steal to place two more in scoring position with one out.
Merriman regrouped and got Nick Tyler to fly out to shortstop Blake Burchett for the second out. Then Merriman turned and tossed a perfect pickoff throw to Burchett to get Ginn at second base for the third out.
"They had the momentum," said Blake Burchett, a senior and son of coach Jeff Burchett. "The guy on second kept getting bigger and bigger leads. I thought maybe we can get this guy. I put up the sign for Nick to make the throw, and we got him to end the inning. That was a huge turning point. That momentum carried over."
The Blue Devils' John Faulkenberry and Jackson Brant drew back-to-back walks from Corinth Holders starting pitcher Tyler Stufano to lead off the bottom of the third. Trevor McHouell laid down a perfect bunt to load the bases.
Cameron Clonch ripped a one-out, two-run double down the first base line to even the score. Turner followed with a two-run single, and Mooresville quickly went from trailing by two to leading by a pair of runs, 4-2.
PADDING THE LEAD
Brant and Blake Burchett produced RBI singles in the fourth, propelling Mooresville to a 6-2 advantage.
Clonch and Merriman recorded base hits in the bottom of the fifth. That helped set up Tafton Hensley's two-run double to the gap in right-center, extending the lead to 8-2.
It was smooth sailing from there.
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER
Mooresville senior Justin Poris was voted the MVP of the state finals. The senior right-hander tossed a complete game in the 5-2, series-opening triumph.
Poris allowed no walks and only six hits. He struck out five. Mooresville played error-free defense behind him.
Merriman, a sophomore left-hander, allowed just three hits in the series clincher. He, too, struck out five.
"Our pitching staff has been awesome all season," Turner said. "It's been a great experience to catch for these guys."
Turner drove in a series-best four runs.
Clonch finished 3 for 6 with a walk and three RBIs in two games.
Corinth Holders became the fourth higher seed this postseason to fall at the hands of the Blue Devils, who emerged from a talented West region as the No. 11 seed. The Pirates were the third seed from the East.
"It's all about the grit," coach Burchett said. "We showed that throughout the playoffs."
Turner, a South Iredell transfer, wouldn't have wanted to make this championship run with anyone else.
"I don't think you could find anyone to put out there on the field that could make us better," Turner pointedly said.