OCEAN — Zach Hoy was nearly a one-man show Thursday versus East Carteret.
The Croatan junior hit a three-run home run at the plate and put up an 11-strikeout complete game effort on the mound in the 4-1 victory.
“My fielders made some super, clutch plays,” Hoy said. “You have to give credit to them.”
The Cougars have been on a roll of late, and Hoy is one of the main reasons why. He’s hitting .636 (14-for-22) in the last six games with six doubles and 16 RBI. And the East Carteret win started a three-game home run streak.
“I’m just trying to keep it going,” Hoy said.
He had another monster game Tuesday in a 17-12 loss to West Columbus, going 4-for-4 with a home run, two doubles and six RBI. On Monday, he went 2-for-3 with a double, home run and three RBI in a 7-6 victory over Southern Nash.
Hoy has 34 RBI in 19 games – the next highest number on the team is 11 – to go with 15 extra-base hits. No one else on the squad has more than seven extra-base hits. He’s batting a team-high .542 and also leads the club in on-base percentage (.591) and slugging (.898).
On the mound, he’s thrown a team-leading 36 innings and sports a 4.08 ERA. He’s struck out 50 and walked 27.
Hoy plays first or third when he’s not on the mound.
“I like to play in the field and hit,” he said. “It doesn’t matter, though, I’ll play wherever coach puts me.”
In the contest against East, Hoy gave himself all the runs he needed in the first inning after stepping to the plate as his team’s fourth batter of the night. He cracked a three-run homer to center field to quickly provide his side with a 3-0 lead.
“It was just one of those ones where you see the pitch and the bat rolled up,” he said. “I didn’t even look at the ball. I was running full sprint to first, and it ended up going over. It was pretty exhilarating.”
Hoy was also dealing on the mound, giving up just one unearned run on three hits while striking out 11 and walking five. He didn’t give up that run until the top of the sixth inning.
“I was feeling pretty good in pregame warmups,” he said. “And usually, I don’t. I noticed I was able to put pitches on the corner, locate my fastball and curveball.”
East entered the matchup with a 9-1 record in the 1A/2A Coastal 8 Conference, while Croatan was 4-6. The Cougars (5-6) now find themselves within striking distance of Southwest Onslow (7-3), Dixon (7-3) and Richlands (5-4) in the race for second.
“We’re kind of on a roll now,” Hoy said. “We’re trying to make the playoffs.”
The postseason was just an afterthought when Croatan began the year 1-8.
“We were kind of sloppy in the beginning of the season,” Hoy said. “As the season has went on, we’ve been playing more as a unit. And it’s been producing results. We’ve been winning games.”
The Cougars have gone 6-4 in their last 10, including winning four of five in one stretch.
“We felt like the underdogs early on this season because we know we’re a pretty good team,” Hoy said. “Things weren’t falling into place, then we started to win a game here and a game there and everything started to work out. The year started to turn.”
Oddly enough, Hoy’s fall went much the same way.
A postseason berth seemed like a long shot in early October with the football team going 0-4 and being outscored 126-18 in the first three games. A 49-44 loss to East Carteret in the fourth contest proved the difference.
The Cougars then rattled off a five-game winning streak to end the regular season 5-5 overall and 5-2 in the Coastal 8 to finish as the runner-up in the league. They hosted their first-ever playoff game in the first round and pulled off a thrilling 24-21 triumph over Currituck to win only the second playoff game in school history.
“It’s sounds like Croatan,” Hoy responded when asked to compare the similar spring and fall.
He shined on the football field as well, helping lead a defense that gave up 18 points or less in three games during its five-game winning streak. He tied for the team lead with 11 tackles for loss and ranked second with seven sacks. He also posted 46 tackles from his defensive end position.
“I like both sports,” Hoy said. “I’m not sure if I see myself as more of a baseball player or football player. I would play football at the next level if that was offered. I like to go out there and hit people and have a good time.”
Hoy reported that he would pick a school for purely academic reasons if he didn’t get a scholarship offer in either baseball or football that interested him. He’s certainly got the grades to pick and chose where he goes, sporting a 4.43 GPA.
“A lot of that is my parents,” he said. “I wasn’t allowed to do anything if I didn’t get all A’s in all my classes. It’s been school before sports. If I didn’t do well in school, I couldn’t play sports.”
A Beta Club member, he’s focused on attending N.C. State to major in engineering.
Here are a few of Hoy’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: “Top Gun.”
Favorite TV Show: “The Office.”
Favorite Cartoon: “The Simpsons.”
Favorite Band/Artist: Jason Aldean.
Favorite Song: “Beautiful Crazy” by Luke Combs.
Favorite Book: The Maze Runner by James Dashner.
Favorite Team: Philadelphia Phillies.
Favorite Athlete: Ray Lewis.
Favorite Vacation: Florida.
Favorite Hobby: Fishing.
Favorite Subject: Math.
Favorite Quote: “If you ain’t first, you’re last.” – Reese Bobby.
Favorite Food: Blackened mahi.
Favorite Drink: Water.
Favorite Restaurant: Ioanni’s Grill.
Favorite Season: Spring.
Favorite Sports Memory: Hitting my first home run.
Favorite Teacher: Cory Efland.
Favorite Sport: Ping-pong.
Favorite Pre-Game/Post-Game Ritual: Hydrating.
Favorite Website/App: Wikipedia.
Favorite Follow on Twitter/Instagram: ESPN.
Ideal Dinner Guest List: John Cena, Charlie Sheen, Jack Black, Adam Sandler, Will Ferrell.
Ideal Group To Survive A Zombie Apocalypse: Colby Johnston, Ryan Messer, Ryan Jensen, Chandler Merrell, Ethan Coleman, Coach Josh Shaffer.
Items For A Deserted Island: Duct tape, matches, knife, a tarp, a fishing rod.