Bunker Hill tops Hickory to win Classic title

Despite falling behind 1-0 against Hickory, the Bunker Hill baseball team “Shook” it off, literally.

The Bears (23-0) came back with an offensive onslaught, led by catcher Tyler Shook, to capture their second straight Catawba County Easter Baseball Classic on Wednesday.

Shook had a four-RBI performance, including a two-run homer in the bottom of the fifth inning. Jacob Shepherd added two RBIs in the victory.

“As far as I’m concerned, the three games we played this week are the finest three-game stretch I’ve ever had a team play,” said Bears coach Marty Curtis. “When you combine pitching, defense and hitting, we played as well as you can play.”

Bears’ starting pitcher Cody Plemmons said the feeling of winning another title was overwhelming.

“This is real special,” Plemmons said. “A lot of teams haven’t won two titles in a row. To get the opportunity to come out with a great group of ball players and be able to win is very special for us and our coaches.”

The Bears trailed 1-0 after Hickory pitcher Robert Whaley doubled to score catcher Barrett Miller. That was the first run allowed by any Bears’ pitcher since the tournament started Monday. It was also the first time they had trailed since a game against West Caldwell on April 19.

“We had to have high intensity, go out there and get them,” Plemmons said. “We just had to keep pounding the baseball and keep doing what we’ve done all year.”

Bunker Hill responded immediately in the bottom of the first with an array of offense. The biggest of the hits came from the bat of Shook, who doubled to score Plemmons and first basemen Shepherd.

The Bears scored five runs in the inning to take a 5-1 lead.
Down, but not out, the Red Tornadoes (14-9) scored two runs in the top of the third inning. Whaley scored on a throwing error by Shook. Hickory’s Michael Payne singled and scored on a sacrifice RBI by third basemen Zach Jarrett.

Not finished with their offense, the Bears scored six runs in the fourth and fifth innings to take a commanding 11-3 lead. Shook had two of those runs, including his two-run blast.

“I was just trying to make contact,” Shook said. “I just hit the ball really well. My first at-bat, I was down in the count. I just wanted to hit the ball and I hit the ball solid.”

Shepherd, Ervin and Null also had an RBI each in the inning.
Whaley struggled on the mound for Hickory, giving up eight runs on nine hits and two walks.

Plemmons finished with six innings on the mound for the Bears. He struck out seven batters, allowed six hits and walked four. Closer Cole McGraw finished out the final inning by striking out 2-of-3 Red Tornado batters.

With the tournament over, the Bears look ahead to next week’s Catawba Valley Athletic Conference tournament. They will try to add their second tournament title in just over two weeks.

“The challenge will be winning three straight games,” Curtis said. “We will have three games in five days. We don’t need to be thinking about anything else. To me, that is the way we try to approach it.”