After a season that saw the Terry Sanford baseball team fall one win short of making the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 3-A state finals, Sam Guy’s Bulldogs will have a different look in 2019.
Gone are twin brothers Christian and Andrew Jayne. Andrew signed with the Baltimore Orioles, and Christian joined the East Carolina University baseball team.
They were part of a class of nine departed seniors that formed the core of the Bulldog baseball team. Guy said the loss of that much experience is going to change the way the Bulldogs play this season.
“We have to figure out what works with this lineup, this team,’’ he said. “We can’t replace what they brought. We have to figure another way to do it.’’
One player who will be key in whatever the Bulldogs do this season is veteran pitcher Davidjohn Herz. Herz, who has already committed to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, was 7-1 last season with an earned run average of 0.53. He led Cumberland County Schools in strikeouts with 105.
With gaudy numbers like those to his credit, Herz knows he’s going to be counted on as a leader of this year’s Bulldog baseball team.
He agreed with his coach that this new edition of the Bulldogs will have to find what will be its key to success. “I think we’ve got to be a lot more focused this year,’’ Herz said. “With those seniors leaving, we’ve got to find out (what our thing on the team is) and go from there.’’
Herz said he worked most on his change-up in the offseason, skipping basketball to get ready for baseball season.
His personal goals for this year are pretty straightforward. “My main goal is to get state Gatorade player of the year, player of the year in Cumberland County and go undefeated,’’ he said.
Guy said Herz has one of the best strengths a pitcher can have: a bad memory. He recalled Herz’s freshman year when Herz made his debut for Terry Sanford against perennial 4-A baseball power Richmond Senior.
“His first varsity pitch was a home run,’’ Guy said. “It didn’t bother him. He only allowed two or three hits the rest of the game.’’
Guy said Herz doesn’t dwell on errors or mistakes but instead focuses on executing the next pitch. Guy’s counting on Herz and another veteran from last year, Justin Ebert, to provide leadership. Ebert batted .368 and drove in 25 runs.
Looking at the rest of the league, Guy thinks there are a number of teams that could contend for the Patriot Athletic Conference title this season.
Gray’s Creek is among the best, he said, returning nearly all its lineup from last year and being led by a couple of solid pitchers, Landen Harris and Tyler Strickland.
Another solid team is Pine Forest. Guy added that Cape Fear and South View are also perennial contenders.
For Terry Sanford to be in the chase, Guy said his team has to achieve a lot of mini-goals first, dealing with fundamentals like getting down bunts and stealing bases.
The Bulldog baseball program got a boost as the season approached with completion of its long-awaited on-campus indoor batting cage. Guy said it’s been in the works six years and will allow the Bulldogs to work out during inclement weather without having to adjust to using the gymnasium.
“It’s huge for us to be able to maximize time with what we’re doing with that facility,’’ he said.
Photo: Sam Gray