Hundreds come out to see first Uwharrie Wampus Cats home baseball game

Published 11:24 pm Monday, May 29, 2023

Threatening weather did not keep approximately 725 baseball fans from filling Don Montgomery Park Monday night as the Uwharrie Wampus Cats baseball team played its first home game.

The new independent team hosted the Carolina Disco Turkeys of Winston-Salem for the first of 13 scheduled games this summer in what team owner Greg Sullivan has dubbed “The Hwy. 52 Cup.”

Fans filled the bleachers and spilled out down both base lines in lawn chairs as the Wampus Cats scored the only run of the game for a 1-0 win.

Sawyer Smith, who played high school ball at South Stanly, went four innings and earned the first pitching win in the team’s history, striking out nine. Mason Tinsley pitched a perfect ninth inning to pick up the team’s first save.

It was just the second game of the season for the Cats, who lost Friday at the High Point-Thomasville HiToms 18-0.

The first home hit came in the top of the second inning off the bat of BJ Williams. He reached second on a passed ball, but the Turkeys got out or the inning.

Uwharrie’s first run in team history came in the bottom of the fourth. Catcher Bryce Dreher walked, stole second and scored on a two-out RBI single from center fielder Adam Wilkerson.

Four pitchers combined in the shutout, including former West Stanly standout Charlie Carpenter, who threw 1.2 scoreless innings of relief of the starter. Ethan Young also threw 1.2 innings without giving up a run and Clint Turner pitched a scoreless eighth inning.

“The offense wasn’t there, but the pitching was spot on,” Wampus Cats head coach Houston Wright said.

Uwharrie had three hits in the game, including Wilkerson’s RBI single.

“I told everybody from the beginning we were going to be a scrappy team, and that’s what we did. We scrapped one out.”

Wright said the Cats’ bats will get stronger and the pitchers will be able to go more innings.

“You see what happens when we come together like tonight,” Wright said.

The Uwharrie coach added Friday’s loss “was a wake-up call” for the team, adding, “they are one of the best summer league teams in the state…it was a learning curve for us for some of the guys. Tonight, we stayed more confident, more under control. At the end of the day, we got a win.”

Talking about the fans, many of whom were in Wampus Cats gear, Wright said, “the atmosphere was awesome…this place was very loud. It felt like having 2,000 or 3,000 people.”

Greg Sullivan, who owns both the Wampus Cats and the Disco Turkeys, said he was worried about the weather. However, people followed social media updates on the game and still came out.

“The fact that people stuck with it…and came out says something about their passion for the game. They literally are not fair weather fans,” Sullivan said.

He said fans compared watching the Wampus Cats to a minor league baseball experience, adding “that’s what you want them to compare it to…the feedback was great and the quality of play was good.”

Monday’s win was the first of a four-game home stand for Uwharrie. The Wampus Cats are back on the field Thursday night hosting the Red Springs Wolves of the Carolina Collegiate League. Uwharrie gets a rematch with the Disco Turkeys Friday night and hosts the Greensboro Yard Goats Saturday. Game times are scheduled for 6:30 p.m.

About Charles Curcio

Charles Curcio has served as the sports editor of the Stanly News & Press for more than 16 years and has written numerous news and feature storeis as well. He was awarded the NCHSAA Tim Stevens Media Representative of the Year and named CNHI Sports Editor of the Year in 2014. He has also won an award from Boone Newspapers, and has won four North Carolina Press Association awards.

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