North Carolina Newspapers

Wednesday, June 7, 1989
Hl See "KM Swat Team"
On Pages 8-9B
Mounties WinWestern 3-A Title
Mountaineers Bomb
Owen Wednesday
Kings Mountain brought out the heavy artillery
again and senior righthanders Stuart Spires and Todd
McDaniel combined to hold a powerful C.D. Owen of-
fense to just two hits as the Mountaineers defeated
Owen 11-1 in the quarter-finals of the State 3-A base-
Do Diuyolis Wednesday night at KM's Lancaster
Kings Mountain batters ripped Owen pitching for 11
hits--including home runs by Paul Brannon and Dale
Greene--to eliminate the number two team from the
Mountain Athletic Conference.
The victory was the first playoff win ever for a
Kings Mountain team over Owen. Owen had ousted
~ the 1986 football team and the 1987 KM basketball
team from the state playoffs.
Spires worked the first five innings to notch his
ninth victory in 11 decisions. He gave up only two sin-
gles, with Chico Kemp's single to left scoring the only
Owen run in the fourth inning. McDaniel came on in
the top of the sixth and held the Warhorses hitless over
the final two innings. Owen had scored 29 runs in its
first two playoff games.
Brannon clubbed his state-record 16th home run of
the year in the first inning to give the Mounties a quick
3-0 lead. Toby Deaton had reached on an error and
Chris Henson singled before Brannon cleared the
Kings Mountain, which scored in each of the first
five innings, built a 6-0 lead before Owen finally got
on the scoreboard.
KM scored two runs in the second as Chad Plonk
singled, moved to second and third on passed balls and
scored on a double by Toby Deaton. Deaton later
scored on a wild pitch.
~ Owen got two men on base in the top of the third on
errors but Spires got .out of trouble when rightfielder
Chip Cash chased down a long fly ball to end the in-
KM was back in business in the bottom of the in-
ning, scoring its sixth run on Greene's single, Plonk's
- double and an infield out by Chris Bullock.
See Owen, 4-B
Allen, Mease (3) and Stewart; S
(5) and Crook. pires, McDaniel
HIT ME A LONG ONE - Kings Mountain High coach Bruce Clark urges slugger Paul Brannon to take
a good cut at the first pitch in bottom of the seventh inning in Saturday's state semi-finals playoff game
with Statesville at Lancaster Field. Brannon slugged a two-run homer to give the Mountaineers a 3-1 vic-
Winning No Surprise To Clark
Editor of the Herald
All Bruce Clark wanted to do in his first year as
head baseball coach at Kings Mountain High School
was to "get the program back on its feet."
Once a perennial power in the Southwestern 3-A
Conference, the Mountaineers had struggled a lot in
the decade of the 1980's. They had opened the decade
by winning their last conference title and going all the
way to the state championship series, where they lost
to Greene Central in Snow Hill.
Since then, the talent wore thin and it was a struggle
to even finish in the top division of the conference.
Clark was named head coach last fall and immedi-
ately began to involve the community in the baseball
program. With the help of the school administration,
and a number of loyal baseball fans in town, the play-
ing facility was upgraded and is once again one of the
top playing facilities in the state.
After all those improvements were made, Clark sur-
rounded himself with some good coaches. Ronny
Funderburke and Rusty Bumgardner, along with Clark,
brought youth, energy and motivation to the staff, and
Bud Bumgardner, who assisted Coach Barry Gibson
with the championship 1980 team, returned to bring
maturity and knowledge of the game.
Then, the coaches took some young, talented play-
ers, and were able to blend them in with a handful of
A BULLOCK BUNT - Chris Bullock of Kings Mountain pushes a bunt down the third base line in
Saturday night's playoff game with Statesville at Lancaster Field. The Mountaineers won 3-1 and will host
seniors who have provided great leadership.
"When we started, we said we weren't going to wor-
ry about winning and losing," said Clark. "We wanted
to get the program back on its feet. After the players
realized what was expected of them, they responded
well and the wins took care of themselves."
The Mountaineers started the: season slowly, going
3-2 in their first five non-conference games. They fin-
ished second to South Point in the highly-competitive
Gaston Neighbors Tournament, and went on to finish
second to South Point in the Southwestern 3-A
Conference race.
But, the Mounties began peaking at the right time.
At one time they were three games behind the Raiders
and battling East Rutherford and North Gaston for an
automatic state playoff berth. In the next to last regular
season game, the Mounties handed South Point its first
loss. They fell to East Rutherford in the semi-finals of
the conference tournament, but then began to jell again
and won four straight playoff games to win a berth in
the state championship series.
"I feel like beating Bessemer City in the Gaston
tournament was what turned our program around,"
said Clark. "We lost to South Point in the finals but we
were able to come back the next week and win three
straight ballgames. We never lost two games in a row
See Clark, 3-B
Rockingham County in the state 3-A championship series tonight, Thursday and Friday.
ecord-Breaking Year
For KM Mountaineers
It's been a record-breaking year for the Kings
Mountain High baseball team, and if the Mountaineers
can defeat Rockingham County for the state 3-A
championship this week, even more school marks will
Bruce Clark's first team at KMHS will be one he'll
long remember. Heading into tonight's opening game
of a best-of-three state championship series with
Rockingham County, Clark's Mountaineers have
clubbed 45 homeruns, and junior first baseman Paul
Brannon has 17. Both of those marks are not only
school--but state high school--records. The team figure
bettered the previous mark of 38 set by 4-A Greenville
Rose High School, and Brannon's figure of 17 broke
the old mark of 11 held by five different players, in-
cluding David Lancaster of Kings Mountain, who hit
his 11 in ‘1975.
Almost every school hitting record has--or will--fall
before the end of the week. In addition to his homerun
mark, Brannon also has 42 hits, breaking the old mark
See Records, 2-B
The 1989 Kings Mountain High School baseball
team did not win the Southwestern 3-A Conference
championship. Only seven teams in the school's histo-
ry have accomplished that feat. But, this current team
can do something none of the others have done when
they host Rockingham County Wednesday through
Friday at Lancaster Field. It can win the North
Carolina High School Athletic Association 3-A cham-
Some of the other teams went as far as they could
go in their time. The 1935 and 1941 teams won the old
Western Conference championship. In those days, the
Western Conference included 15 schools in this end of
the state but conference champions did not advance to
play other conference champions in a state playoff.
The 1969 team won the Western N.C. High School
Activities Association championship, beating
Statesville 2-0 in the championship game. That was
the state championship for that particular association.
At that time, there were two state associations and the
winners of the different groups did not go on to play
each other for a true North Carolina championship.
A true state champion in any sport was not possible
until the late 1970's, when the WNCHSAA, which in-
cluded 39 schools in the western end of the state, and
the larger NCHSAA merged. Since that merger, Kings
Mountain has played for only one major state champi-
onship. The 1980 baseball team lost that best of three
series to Greene Central.
7th Inning Homers
Beat Statesville 3-1
The Hollywood script writers couldn't have come up
with a better finish!
Kings Mountain's Mountaineers, trailing visiting
Statesville 1-0 going into the bottom of the seventh
inning in Saturday's western state championship game,
were facing elimination from the state 3-A baseball
Gary Davis, a good, hard-throwing righthand pitch-
er who had won 11 games for the Foothills Conference
champions this year, had kept most of the Mountaineer
sluggers in a hole all night with a moving fastball and
good-breaking curves.
But, as the Mountaineers came in for their final in-
ning at bat, the hundreds of Mountaineer fans who
lined the banks of Lancaster Field began to work into
an uproar, clapping and yelling for their Mountaineers
to bring out the heavy offense and win their way into
the state championship series.
All night long, head Coach Bruce Clark had urged
his hitters to go after the first pitch, which Davis was
putting over for strikes to almost every batter. The KM
batters, who seemed almost frozen by the moving first
pitch, had taken it all night.
But shortstop Chris Plonk, batting eighth in the line-
up, jumped on Davis's first pitch in the bottom of the
seventh and sent it sailing over the right-center field
fence for his fifth homerun that tied the score at 1-all.
He made sure Kings Mountain would at least make it
an extra inning game.
Davis bowed his neck and fanned pinch-hitter Keith
Allen and leadoff batter Toby Deaton for two outs.
Everyone in the stadium could sense that the
Mountaineers wanted their slugger, junior first base-
man Paul Brannon, at bat. Brannon had already
clubbed 16 home runs this year and had hit at least
one in each of the Mountaineers last five ballgames.
He had a double and single to his credit in three previ-
ous trips Saturday.
But for Brannon to get to bat in this inning, Chris
Henson would have to get on base. Davis worked a 1-2
count on the Mountaineer second baseman, but he
fouled off a couple of pitches and then sent a Davis
curve into left-center for a base hit to keep the hopes
The Mountaineers and their fans could sense the end
as Brannon dug his spikes into the batter's box. He did-
n't lift the bat off his big right shoulder until Davis let
go with the first pitch, a knee-high fast ball. With one
quick flick of his big wrists the Mountaineer homerun
king sent the ball sailing high over the centerfield
fence for his 17th homer of the year to give the
Mounties a 3-1 victory and propel them into the cham-
pionship series beginning here tonight.
Needless to say, the Mountaineer players and fans
went wild. The team not only greeted Brannon as he
crossed home plate, but tackled him in front of the
backstop and they stayed in a huge, football-like hud-
dle for several minutes as fans poured onto the field to
congratulate the coaches and players with hugs and
The victory moves the Mounties into the best-of-
three championship series against eastern champ
Rockingham County beginning tonight at 7:30 at
Lancaster Field. The second game will be Thursday at
7:30, and the third, if needed, will be Friday at 7:30. It
will be the first time Kings Mountain has hosted a
state championship game in any high school sport.
Although the heavy hitters--Plonk, Henson and
Brannon--brought the victory in the bottom of the sev-
enth, Coach Bruce Clark could point to a superb pitch-
ing performance by senior Stuart Spires and a perfect
defensive game by his other starters as the keys to
keeping the Mounties in the game.
Spires, winning his 10th game in a row after losing
two early-season non-conference games, pitched the
See Comeback, 4-B
Score by innings: R-H-E
St 0001000 1-4-0
KM 000 0003 3-8-0
Davis and Stevenson; Spires and Crook.
Remembering Champions
This week will be the first time Kings Mountain has
hosted a high school state championship game in any
Kings Mountain won conference championships in
1935, 1941, 1963, 1967, 1969, 1975 and 1980. All of
the teams had a lot in common. Most of them had
good pitching, hitting, and defense and the teams were
made up of the finest young men Kings Mountain had
to offer.
The 1935 team was Kings Mountain's first confer-
ence champion in any sport. It included three men who
went on to play professional baseball and one, the late
Jake Early, played 10 seasons in the major leagues and
was an American League all-star catcher for the
Washington Senators. Eugene Goforth, who still lives
in Kings Mountain, played AAA ball in the St. Louis
See Champs, 4-B

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