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Cain, Southern stop Orange in key clash

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By Bob Sutton

Special to The Alamance News

Braxton Cain gave the Southern Alamance baseball team as much as he could from the mound and the Patriots had enough pop to take care of the rest, defeating visiting Orange 3-1 in a Central 3-A Conference game with first-place implications Tuesday night.

Braxton Cain

Janden Evans smashed the first pitch in the bottom of the first inning for an unlikely home run and Bradley Capps later homered as Southern broke a tie atop the standings.

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Janden Evans

Cain worked 6 1/3 innings before reaching the pitch limit, so Eli Gilley finished the job.

Southern (13-5 overall, 7-2 Central 3-A Conference) benefitted from Cain’s stellar outing.

“We were talking that we knew if Braxton is on, it’s going to give us a great chance,” Patriots coach Jason Smith said.

It marked the first time a Southern pitcher reached the pitch limit this season. Cain said he felt a bit of stress.

“Kind of stayed focused and tried to just throw strikes,” he said. “The fourth, fifth and sixth, I was feeling a little (fatigue). The last inning, I turned it up.”

He threw 95 pitches through six innings, then used 11 to retire the first batter of the seventh. At 105, high school pitchers must be replaced, though they can finish facing the batter at the plate.

Gilley entered and threw three straight balls before notching strikeouts of the only two batters he faced to end the game. The teams, each with three league games remaining, meet in a rematch Friday night in Hillsborough.

Orange (14-5, 6-3) had a runner thrown out at the plate in the first inning after a Southern fielding blunder. “That was a break for us,” Smith said.

The Panthers hit into a double play in the third. Cain, whose previous high pitch count had been 94, withstood five Southern errors.

The Patriots had spotty offense against Orange right-hander Cross Clayton (5-1).

Evans had never homered in a high school game – junior varsity or varsity.

“I knew it was going to happen,” said Evans, a senior. “It was going to come eventually.”

The shot to left field cleared the fence. “(The left fielder) turns his back and it finally went over,” Evans said of what he saw.

Capps began the bottom of the fifth with his first 2024 home run. That smash stayed fair down the left-field line.

“I needed to get one,” said Capps, who missed about a month because of a lower back strain. “It was really a hype moment for me and my team.”

The Patriots tacked on another run in the fifth when Evans doubled and scored on Ethan Mann’s single. Southern’s Eli Holland had two hits, including a double.

Orange’s run came in the sixth with Ryan Horton’s two-out triple coming before a wild pitch.

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