• Murphy’s Caleb Irwin (16) is pumped up after being mobbed by teammates following a leadoff homer in the bottom of the second Friday afternoon against Mount Airy. The starting pitcher for the Bulldogs, Irwin only allowed two hits to the Granite Bears in Murphy’s 13-0 second-round victory.
    Murphy’s Caleb Irwin (16) is pumped up after being mobbed by teammates following a leadoff homer in the bottom of the second Friday afternoon against Mount Airy. The starting pitcher for the Bulldogs, Irwin only allowed two hits to the Granite Bears in Murphy’s 13-0 second-round victory.

Murphy baseball dominates Mount Airy

    Murphy – Two leadoff walks.
    That was enough to fire up Caleb Irwin.
    Murphy’s senior ace settled in and induced a flyout, followed by two strikeouts and got out of an early jam.
    He went on to crush a solo home run and a grand slam, while simultaneously striking out seven Mount Airy batters and only surrendering two hits. With Murphy’s potent offense backing him up, the Bulldogs got some long-overdue revenge against the Granite Bears with a 13-0 five-inning win.
    “Coming into the playoffs, we have our expectations. We came into this game with the mentality of forgetting the regular season; it’s all about now,” Irwin said.
    “I did get a little fire in my belly from the walks; I was having a little trouble finding my groove and I couldn’t throw strikes. So when I came to the plate, I thought, ‘I’ve got to get mad and crush this ball.’”
    The victory not only ended a recent losing streak for Cherokee County schools against Mount Airy, but silenced critics who thought that Murphy’s dominance during the regular season would lead to trouble in the playoffs. The Bulldogs outscored their opponents 293-32 during the campaign, with their closest conference game coming in a home game against Robbinsville on March 13, a 5-1 Murphy win.
    But after Irwin got out of the first inning unscathed, the Dogs did what they’ve done all season; they got to work.
    Jeremiah Clark doubled with one out and promptly scored on a Joey Curry single. Irwin’s solo home run led off the bottom of the second, before Lucas Barolet smacked a two-out double that brought Luke Garrett home at the end of the frame.
    The floodgates opened in the bottom of the third. Clark and Curry had back-to-back hits, before an error scored Clark. Nathan Barolet also reached on an error, bringing Mount Airy coach Jon Cawley out for a mound visit, in an attempt to calm starting pitcher Cooper Nester’s predicament. But with the bases loaded full of Bulldogs, Irwin launched a grand slam that forced Nester off the hill.
    Alex Hall took over for the Granite Bears, but Murphy did not let up. Travis Seabolt doubled with one out and scored the Bulldogs’ ninth run on an error. Clark later singled to plate Garrett with two outs, before Royce Peterson got an RBI hit of his own to give Murphy an 11-0 advantage.
    Garrett grounded out to score courtesy runner Kevin Dean in the bottom of the fourth, before Garrett Clapsaddle charged home on a wild pitch.
    The only two Mount Airy hits came in the second and fourth, both singles from Luke Welch and Nester. Nathan Barolet took over in the fifth and disposed of the Granite Bears in order, sealing the win for the Bulldogs.