Prep Baseball Report

Day 3 at Ashley Spring Break Tournament: New Hanover takes Championship; Sniffen MVP

Tim Hower
PBR Guest Correspondent


Tournament MVP and N.C. Central commit Alex Sniffen went 3-for-4 with four RBI and a run to help the Wildcats stay unbeaten and win their second straight tournament title.

Sniffen finished the three-day event 6-for-10 with two walks, five RBI and two runs. He also struck out 10 in a complete-game victory over Ashley in the semifinals.

“I think I did better than I ever expected myself to,” Sniffen said. “Coming into this tournament I wasn’t sure how I was going to play.

“I’m just really pleased with how the whole team swung the bats tonight. We watched them play in the semifinals and we knew we were going to have to swing it well to beat them.”

The only other team two win back-to-back titles in the 14-year history of the tournament is Hoggard in 2016 and 2017.

After N.C. State commit Blake Walston led off the second inning with a walk, UNC commit Kyle Smith laced a triple to the gap in left-center to give New Hanover (16-0) a 2-1 lead. Smith added an RBI groundout in the fourth and Sniffen immediately followed with a two-run single to left field to make it 6-1.

Heritage (14-4) scored three runs in the top of the fifth inning to cut the deficit to two. Jack Boyles, Alex Imposimato and Hunter Zents each had an RBI.

Chase Hardee came in out of the bullpen and stranded a runner on first. The junior righty didn’t allow a hit and struck out four in 2 2/3 inning to earn the save. Hunter Hodges was the winning pitcher.

“Lately, we’ve brought Chase in and he’s done the exact same thing and that is throw two pitches for strikes,” New Hanover coach Richard Foy said. “When we put him in a situation where he doesn’t have to go through the order more than one and a half times, he can be effective.”

Sniffen delivered another two-run single in the sixth inning to score UNCW commit Jac Croom and Walson and give the Wildcats a little more breathing room.

The top four batters in New Hanover’s lineup – Croom, Walston, Smith and Sniffen – went 5-for-11 with six RBI and seven runs scored.

“The guys did a nice job tonight of just trying to have a normal at-bat with runners on base,” Foy said. “The focus of last night’s post-game talk was that you can’t try to be someone else. Just go up and have your at-bat.”

Imposimato led the Huskies offensively with three hits. The leadoff hitter was 7-for-12 with two double, a triple and four runs over the three-day event.



A bases loaded walk to Matt Rivers that scored Parker Sobota in the top of the fifth inning proved to be the difference in the third-place contest.

East Forsyth (8-12) grabbed a 3-0 lead in the third inning. Blake Youngblood, Gardner-Webb commit Danny Fish and ECU commit Xavier Isaac each had an RBI. A one-out single from Cam Davis in the fourth inning brought home the fourth run.

Davis was 2-for-2 with a walk and Noah Robinson finished 2-for-3 with a run scored.

“The second time through the order our guys put together some really quality at-bats and obviously it led to quite a few runs,” East Forsyth coach Drew Dull said.

Fish entered with runners on first and second and one out in the bottom of the seventh inning and ended the game with a ground out and a strikeout. Three Eagles pitchers combined to strand 12 Ashley (11-7) runners.

“You had the stat that yesterday that 10 of the 12 runs we allowed were with two outs,” Dull said. “We were almost out of every inning last night and today we went and attacked the hitters and made them put it in play.”

Leadoff hitter and Brunswick CC commit Rocco Farmintino led the Screaming Eagles offensively by going 3-for-4 with two doubles. Noah Dail had a pair of hits, including a two-run double to right field in the fourth inning. Michael Brannin followed with a sacrifice fly to cut the deficit to 4-3.

The Screaming Eagles got to within 5-4 on an RBI single from Drew Tyndall and had runners on the corners with one out in the sixth inning, but couldn’t get the tying run across.



Junior catcher Jackson Vargo delivered a go-ahead two-run single in the fourth inning and the Vikings continued to tack on runs to finish the tournament with a 2-1 record.

Trey Clucas, Chris Wetherill and Jaxson Croom each drew a one-out walk. Courtesy runner Connor Schaudt and Wetherill both came around to score on Vargo’s single to right field to put Hoggard (5-12) on top 4-2. Croom later scored on a wild pitch.

The lead grew to 9-3 after a four-run fifth inning that featured RBI singles from Vargo and Zach Zabriskie as well as an RBI double from Wetherill.

“The talent has never been a question, however, the mental part of the game has been in question,” Hoggard coach Tommy Bowker said. “Staying focused from the first pitch to the last out, competing every pitch and having a short memory. Our maturity is starting to take shape and you’re seeing some growth.”

Vargo finished 2-for-3, while leadoff hitter Jason Culley reached base in three of his four plate appearances and scored twice. Every Hoggard starter reached base at least one and six had a hit.

“We wanted to come out hot just like yesterday and hit fastballs,” Vargo said.

Starter Trey Clucas allowed two earned runs and struck out six in six innings of work.

Garner (11-8) shortstop Nolan McLean reached base three times and scored twice. Kaden Brown went 2-for-3 with a run scored.



The Buccaneers rallied from an early 6-0 hole to end the tournament with a victory.

A four-run third inning got Laney (11-7) back into the game and they took the lead for good in the fifth on a fielder’s choice off the bat of Matt Adam that scored Toby Stone. A eight-run seventh inning put the game out of reach.

“It’s been a tough week. We pitched it really well, but we just hadn’t hit,” Laney coach Eric Brown said. “To be down 6-0 and lacking confidence and then come back and scored 15 unanswered runs is incredible. I’m really proud of them for not giving in and continuing to do what they are supposed to do.”

Stone had a big day offensively, going 4-for-5 with a double, four stolen bases, two runs and an RBI. Freshman Connor Kate was 3-for-4 with two runs and two RBI. Brooks Byers and Jake Ettefagh each collected two hits.

Laney finished with 13 hits and 11 stolen bases. They also capitalized on five Annandale (3-11) errors.

Christian Day came out of the bullpen to earn the victory by striking out four in 4 2/3 innings.

The Atoms got two hits a piece from Orlando Torres and Spencer Robson.


Tim Hower publishes Coastal Preps, a website dedicated to high school sports in the Wilmington and Brunswick County area.  You can see more of his coverage at