MOREHEAD CITY — Dixon Guthrie says he entered the season with the goal of making all-conference.
He can rest easy.
It’s a virtual lock he reaches that goal.
His bat has helped propel the West Carteret baseball team to a strong regular season finish. The senior outfielder leads the team with 24 RBI, a .709 slugging percentage and 11 extra-base hits.
“I’m looking to drive it right up the middle when I step up to the plate,” Guthrie said. “That can lead to many opportunities. I’m not trying to hit the crap out of it.”
The third-year varsity player, who ranks third on the team with a .382 average, has been at his best as the year has come to a close. Guthrie is hitting .435 (10-for-23) with four doubles, a triple, home run, 11 RBI and seven runs in West’s last seven games. The Patriots have gone 6-1 in that stretch to push their record to 14-4.
“We’re on a roll,” Guthrie said. “I think our pitching has been really good. Josh (Plisko) has been lights out, and our bats have been good. Our bats are heating up again like they did earlier in the season. We had a patch where we weren’t hitting as much.”
Guthrie is one of five West batters hitting above .340. The Patriots hit .307 as a team. They have 45 extra-base hits in 18 games and 113 RBI. But one stat stands out above the rest for West. The squad has 110 stolen bases this season as it’s mastered the art of small ball.
“We have a lot of stolen bases,” said Guthrie who has 10 swipes. “That comes from having guys that aren’t necessarily the tallest in the world but have good speed. We’re all about bunting, getting guys on base, driving them in. That’s how we get it done.”
Guthrie has been able to stray from the small-ball tactics with two home runs, including the first of his career March 14 in an 11-1 win over East Carteret.
“I’ve always wanted to hit a home run,” he said. “That was a goal when I came into the season. It was crazy. There were no words to explain how I felt.”
On April 9, West was fresh off its first 3A Coastal Conference loss of the season in a 3-2 setback to Jacksonville and was trailing 4-3 in the bottom of the fifth inning versus White Oak when Guthrie hit a two-run blast to give his team a 5-4 advantage. The Patriots went on to win 6-5.
“On the first one, the wind might have helped it a little bit,” he said. “On the second one, I blasted it. It was a no-doubter. That White Oak game was a big one. There was a point where I didn’t know if we were going to be able to come back. We have to rely on Jacksonville to lose if we lose that game.”
West is on pace to tie for the league championship for the third consecutive season. The Morehead City squad tied for the league title in 2017 with West Craven and Jacksonville for the top spot last year. This year sees West and Jacksonville tied for the lead with each team beating the other in the regular season.
Last season, the Patriots advanced to the third round of the state playoffs for the first time in 12 years when Guthrie hit a walk-off single to the gap in left field to give West a 3-2 win over South Johnston.
“It was humbling, knowing the last time they made it, it was with (current Major League player) Lonnie (Chisenhall),” he said. “We want to get to at least the third round like we did last year. But there would be nothing better than to be able to bring a state championship back to the area.”
A standout student with a 4.0 GPA and a member of the National Honor Society, National Technical Honors Society, Carteret Sports Leadership and SkillsUSA, Guthrie is looking to continue his baseball career at the next level.
“I want to keep playing, anywhere that is possible,” he said. “I’m communicating with different coaches. It’s too late for the bigger schools, so I’m looking at community colleges so I can work my way up. Recruiting has been stressful. It’s very stressful. You just try to do what is best for you.”
Guthrie, who said he wants to major in business administration or accounting, is currently looking at Pitt and Lenoir community colleges.
Here are a few of Guthrie’s favorite things, as well as his ideal groups with which to eat dinner and survive a zombie apocalypse and the five items he would take with him on a deserted island:
Favorite Movie: “Talladega Nights.”
Favorite TV Show: “SportsCenter.”
Favorite Cartoon: “Scooby-Doo.”
Favorite Band/Artist: Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Favorite Song: “September” by Earth, Wind & Fire.
Favorite Book: Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck.
Favorite Team: Atlanta Braves.
Favorite Athlete: Freddie Freeman.
Favorite Vacation: Bahamas.
Favorite Hobby: Trout fishing.
Favorite Subject: History.
Favorite Quote: “The cream rises to the top.”
Favorite Food: Lobster tails.
Favorite Drink: Mountain Dew.
Favorite Restaurant: Ioanni’s.
Favorite Season: Summer.
Favorite Sports Memory: Hitting a walk-off in the second round of the state playoffs in my junior year.
Favorite Teacher: Mr. Ted Kenneally.
Favorite Sport: Baseball.
Favorite Pre-Game/Post-Game Ritual: Listening to music in the locker room.
Favorite Website/App: Instagram.
Favorite Follow on Twitter/Instagram: SportsCenter.
Ideal Dinner Guest List: Will Ferrell, Jesus, Megan Fox, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Scarlett Johansson.
Ideal Group To Survive A Zombie Apocalypse: Coach A.J. Curtis, coach Michael Turner, Hunter Anderson, Samuel Sproul, Matt Boulanger, James Gaskill and Shi Geronimo.
Items For A Deserted Island: Food, water, rope, flares and machete.