Vol. LXI, No. 21
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
(Photo by Bill Allen/NJ SportAction)
Shane Davis was determined to end his Hun School athletic career on a high note last weekend as the Raider baseball team competed in the state Prep A tournament.
After quarterbacking the Hun football team to the Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL) title last fall, Davis was looking to take a lead role in Hun's pursuit of its first Prep A baseball title since 2002.
But pressing in his efforts to achieve that goal, the powerful Davis struggled to get his bat going. In the third inning of Hun's battle last Sunday with visiting Lawrenceville in the final, Davis swung mightily but could only muster a fly out to right field.
In the bottom of the sixth with Hun trailing 2-1 and facing the prospect of being forced into a winner-take-all game two in the double elimination tournament, Davis found the range.
The switch-hitting rightfielder turned on a Tom Tesauro delivery and blasted the ball over the right field wall and deep into the woods behind the fence. Davis flashed a broad grin to his teammates standing by the dugout as he started his sweet trip around the bases. The Raiders added another run in the frame to give them a 4-2 edge heading into the last inning.
The Hun smiles turned to frowns about a half hour later as Lawrenceville pushed across four runs in the top of the seventh to take a 6-4 lead. But Davis got the Hollywood ending he was looking for as he worked out a walk to aid a Hun rally which saw the Raiders score two runs on an error and the winning tally on a wild pitch.
In reflecting on his clout which got the Raiders rolling, Davis said he wasn't swinging for the fences. "I just wanted to make contact," said Davis, who had gone a month without hitting a homer.
"I was just trying to get the runner over. I just got the bottom of it and the ball got up in the air and got out. It's a great feeling."
While Hun had a deflated feeling after Lawrenceville put up its four-spot, Davis was confident that he and his teammates could pull out the game.
"We have had innings this year where we have scored 14 runs," said Davis, who will be continuing his baseball career at George Mason University. "As long as we still have at-bats we know there is a chance we can come back. We have a lot of hitters up and down the lineup, a lot of smart hitters. It wasn't even hitting the ball today; it was the walks."
For Davis, topping Lawrenceville in the finale was icing on the cake. "It always feels great to beat Lawrenceville," said Davis, noting that Hun didn't lose in MAPL play this school year in either football or baseball.
"They expect to win and that's what makes them a good ballclub. It feels great in my senior year to win two championships. I couldn't ask more from my senior year."
Longtime Hun head coach Bill McQuade couldn't have asked more from his team as it posted a record-breaking spring. "It's the best lineup in all my years here from top to bottom," said McQuade, who is in his 37th year at the helm of the Hun program.
"We broke pretty much every offensive record. We have won 20 games, 16 wins was the school record before this season. When you get kids like this who are developing into collegiate players, they know how to be patient. It's about patience at the plate and not swinging at the other person's pitch. This group, more than any other, has been able to do that."
The group has displayed plenty of character in addition to patience. "I think the character-building moment of this team came when Brad Raynor [of Lawrenceville] had a perfect game against us for six innings in that first game and we were down 2-0," recalled McQuade.
"We scored four runs in the top of the seventh to beat them 4-2. That was a real character moment and then we finished it up the same way against the same team. You have to believe in yourselves and your teammates. I'm proud of the way the kids battled back."
Hun got some feisty relief pitching from senior Andrew Baxter, who came on in the seventh to put out the Lawrenceville fire.
"Andy Baxter did what he has done all year," said McQuade of Baxter, a starting infielder who picked up the save in Hun's 7-4 win over Blair Saturday in the Prep A semis and has posted a 5-0 record this spring. "He's probably pitched in nine or ten games this year for us, off and on for an inning or starting a game. He got the job done; he limited the damage."
Davis inflicted damage on Lawrenceville with his sixth inning blast. "In the past couple of games Shane has been trying so hard, trying to do it all," said McQuade.
"The four senior captains [Baxter, Davis, Sean Munley, and Sean Pucciarelli] have dedicated themselves to the season from day one, training hard here and down in Florida. All of a sudden, Shane turned on that ball and it was a laser out of here. In the at-bat before that, it was off the end of the bat but he had another good swing so I was confident he was back."
McQuade was thrilled to see his team back in the winner's circle. "It's always a wonderful feeling, to beat Lawrenceville and to go undefeated in the MAPLs," said McQuade, who laughed heartily as his players doused him with the water bucket after the game.
"This year has been really special because it is so hard to do. We said yesterday in practice, you never know when you're going to be in a championship game again."
Davis, for his part, said the win was the product of a special year-long cohesiveness among Hun's athletes. "It started in football season, in basketball, and then this season in baseball," asserted Davis. "The teams are close together, that's why they win. They are talented sure; it's just that my best friends are on this team."
And Davis proved Sunday that he had his friends' backs when the chips were down.
Town Topics® may be purchased on Wednesday mornings at the following locations: Princeton McCaffreys, Coxs, Kiosk (Palmer Square), Krauszers (State Road), Olives, Speedy Mart (State Road), Wawa (University Place); Hopewell Village Express; Rocky Hill Wawa (Route 518); Pennington Pennington Market.
Copyright© Town Topics®, Inc. 2011.