KANNAPOLIS — It wasn’t revenge that Leon Davidson had on his mind Friday night.
It was redemption.
The Hopewell High senior had a season debut to forget in March, allowing five earned runs in three innings of what turned into a 13-0 loss to Hough. It was an off night.
But Davidson was on against Hough in the MECKA Conference Tournament final Friday at A.L. Brown and led the third-seeded Titans to a 3-2 win over the regular season champions.
“I had to redeem myself,” said Davidson. “I had to let them know that what they saw (in March) is not the Leon they’d ever see again.”
The right-handed Davidson threw a complete-game four-hitter and struck out six, while walking one. Hopewell coach Chet Greeson said his “curveball was nasty.”
“We just didn’t do a good enough job adjusting,” said Hough coach Jimmy Cochran. “He threw his breaking ball and fastball for strikes all night.”
Hough (21-5) won the regular season with a two-game cushion over second-place A.L. Brown and entered the final on an 11-game win streak. Hopewell’s 9-6 win at Hough March 11 was the Huskies’ lone league loss, and Hough has mostly cruised against league foes.
The Titans (17-10) have had some ups and downs this year and had more on the path to the final. They trailed sixth-seeded Vance 3-2 through four-and-a-half innings when rain forced a delay in Tuesday’s first round.
“That was a wake-up call,” said Davidson.
Hopewell returned to Kannapolis Wednesday and overtook the Cougars, then followed that with a 5-0 win over A.L. Brown later that night to earn a spot in the final.
“To finish off after having a tough week, it’s one of the most enjoyable games I’ve been a part of,” said Greeson.
Davidson had a 2-0 lead to work with when he stepped onto the mound in the bottom of the first after Luke Orr (3-for-4) led off the game with a single, scored on Nick Cicci’s hit and David Todd scored on a wild pitch.
“It helped me,” said Davidson. “It gave me a sigh of relief.”
Hough got on the board in the bottom of the first when Blake Matthews doubled and scored on an error. After Hopewell's Orr drove in a run with a double in the fifth to make it 3-1, Hough threatened in the sixth.
Husky Josh Parker led off with a bunt single and reached third on two groundouts. He scored on a wild pitch, and Hough got the tying run to second, but Davidson escaped by striking out Cole Maye. Then he had a 1-2-3 seventh to end it.
Moments later, still dripping from a post-game dousing of cooler water, Greeson hugged his players.
“You guys are awesome,” he said.
Meanwhile, having lost for the first time in exactly a month, Hough turned its focus to the state playoffs, which begin May 11.
“I think we just learn from it,” said Cochran. “It’s better it happened tonight than next week.”
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