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Conley season ends at New Hanover

052619-Conley/New Hanover Baseball
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D.H. Conley's Robbie O'Neal (right) slides back into first base as New Hanover's Blake Walston catches the ball.

052619-Conley/New Hanover
052619-Conley/New Hanover Baseball
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By Jake Keator
The Daily Reflector

Saturday, May 25, 2019

WILMINGTON — Emotions rolled over as the second-seeded D.H. Conley baseball team saw its season end Saturday night following a 2-1 walk-off loss to top-seeded New Hanover in eight innings. 

Entering the eighth inning, with the board still void of a run, only one Viking batter, UNC-Greensboro commit Robbie O’Neal had managed a hit off of New Hanover pitcher Hunter Hodges. Chandler Baldree (1-for-3, R, SB) knocked a single to shortstop, who rifled the ball to first, but Baldree managed to avoid the tag, bringing the Conley faithful to their knees in hopes of a late rally. 

He then advanced by a walk to Pitt Community College commit Cam Jackson, and then pushed to third by a hit from Towson commit Jake Lysaght. 

With Baldree on third, Josh McCarter knocked the ball between the shortstop and third baseman, scoring Baldree to take a 1-0 lead. Leaving DHC just three outs from a state championship appearance. 

Freshman ace, and UNC commit, Matthew Matthijs (7.2 IP, 3 H’s, 3 BB’s, 7 K’s) then took to the mound, looking to put the game away in front of the Wildcats home crowd. He retired Mac Hutchinson and Alec Cortner with back-to-back groundouts, leaving Conley on the cusp of victory. 

Following the second out, Vikings head coach Jason Mills relieved Matthiijs of his duties, bringing in senior reliever Mitchell Hoffler. Hoffler, DHC’s top reliever made his first appearance of the series, a secret weapon saved until the last moment thanks to complete games in previous games by Matthijs in game one, and game two starter O’Neal.

Jac Croom (1-for-4, R) then picked up a single as the first batter Hoffler faced, followed by a walk to Blake Walston. Kyle Smith also earned a walk, loading the bases for the defending champions. 

A deep hit by Alex Sniffen scored Croom, followed by Walston to end the game, and the season for the Vikings. 

Conley fans and players were stunned, as New Hanover ran to left field to celebrate.

The Vikings graduate 13 seniors, Lysaght, Brandon Ward, Baldree, Cam Jackson, O’Neal, Shea Ward, Davis Pugh, Cody Thompson, Damian Tetterton, McCarter, Zach Nicholson, Hoffler, and Garrett Murray. 

After long embraces with each of his seniors, an emotional Mills had nothing but pride and praise for his teams leaders.

“There’s so much positive I can say about all 13 of my seniors,” Mills said. “But my heart is broken for them, just one play from being done, one out. We were just unlucky and God wasn’t shining on us today. This group has been amazing. They had the second highest win total in school history, and went toe-to-toe with the number five team in the country. To be quite honest, I think we are as good as they are and it was a great series. Hats off to them (New Hanover) for coming through. 

After being no-hit in game one, which featured the N.C. State pitching commit Walston, Conley rebounded with a dominating 10-0 win at Hollywood Crossroads on Thursday, showing they were top competitors with the Wildcats. 

Notable names returning next season include Matthijs, Noah Link, Matt Rostar and Skylar Cross. 

Contact Jake Keator at jkeator@reflector.com, 252-329-9594 and follow @JakeKeatorDR on Twitter.

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