Sweet 17! Charlotte Christian beats Metrolina Christian, adds another state title

·4 min read
JEFF SINER/jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

Charlotte Christian did it again.

The Knights’ baseball team found itself in a familiar position Saturday night, winning another NCISAA state baseball title. That’s No. 17.

The Knights won the best-of-three series with a two-game sweep over the Metrolina Christian Academy Warriors, winning the first game Friday night and the clinching game Saturday by identical of scores 7-3.

The state title was the 16th for head coach Greg Simmons in his 31st season leading Charlotte Christian.

“It was a great group of guys and they played hard,” Simmons said of the 2022 championship team. “They had a mission that we wanted to accomplish. They were disciplined in what they were doing and going about their business. We didn’t lose a game at home all year and had 30 wins. We had a great group of seniors and the leadership was unbelievable.”

Saturday, there were lots of heroes for Simmons.

Everett Harris and Tanner McCammon hit solo home runs for the Knights. Freshman designated hitter John Lash had three RBIs going 2-for-4 with a pair of singles and a fielder’s choice RBI.

For Metrolina Christian, sophomore catcher Will Brooks had two RBIs and senior designated hitter Harrison Bouthillette driving in the third Warriors’ run.

“We’ve had more than an incredible run and a lot of fun,” said Metrolina Christian coach Darren Adams. “We’ve never been here before and this was a learning curve for us. We’re going to build on our success, we’ve got a lot of young guys that are going to be hungry, and we hope to be back.”

The game started at 1 p.m. Saturday afternoon, but had to be stopped three innings in due to lightning. At 3:30 p.m. it was decided to postpone the game and resume it at 6:30 p.m., after the bad weather left the area.

Following the lightning and rain delay, both teams used new pitchers. The Warriors relieved starter Oliver Adams with Brady Halstead while Charlotte Christian had Ryan O’Rourke come in for starter Wesley Jones.

Charlotte Christian loaded the bases in the top of the first inning. With two outs Lash lined a single up the middle scoring two, and the Knights lead 2-0.

The Warriors answered quickly as Tommy Miller and Neil Griffin each singled to open Metrolina’s half of the first inning. With one out Brooks doubled just inside the left-field line scoring a pair to knot the game at 2-2.

Charlotte quickly regained the lead in the second inning as Utermark doubled home DJ Layton who hit a one-out single, and the Knights were back with a 3-2 lead it would not relinquish.

Three who made a difference

Judd Utermark, Charlotte Christian: Senior infielder and pitcher went 2-for-2 with an RBI double and a single, while also pitching the final two outs of the seventh inning to earn the save. He hit his 18th home run of the year, a new school record, in Game 1 of the series.

Will Brooks, Metrolina Christian: Sophomore catcher knocked in two of the three Warriors’ runs with an RBI double.

Tanner McCammon, Charlotte Christian: Junior shortstop went 2-for-4 with a solo home run and single.

Worth mentioning

The following are the college commits for Charlotte Christian: Judd Utermark, Ole Miss; Calvert Clark, Clemson; Ryan O’Rourke, University of Pittsburgh; Everette Harris, NC State; Wesley Jones, Charlotte 49ers; and Tanner McCammon, Elon. Knights left fielder Jakeman Pendleton is committed to Furman to play football.

Charlotte Christian scored runs in each of the first three innings.

The Knights could have scored more runs in the first and second innings but suffered several untimely base-running miscues. In the first inning, Utermark was gunned down at the plate trying to score from third base on a ground ball to the shortstop. In the second, Utermark got into a rundown at second base and was tagged out, and Calvert Clark was picked off at first base after getting on via an error.

They said it

“For three years I’ve been on this varsity team and I love all of them like family. We went through a lot of adversity this year and then two years ago with Covid, and to see how all of us worked through that was just awesome.” -- Charlotte Christian’s Everette Harris on his three-year career with the Knights.

RECORDS: Metrolina Christian (19-8, 7-3), Charlotte Christian (30-3, 10-0)

PHOTOS: Metrolina Christian vs. Charlotte Christian