ZooKeepers finish CPL baseball season with positives

By the end of many games, the scoreboard numbers didn’t add up well for the Asheboro ZooKeepers. (PJ Ward-Brown/Randolph Record)

ASHEBORO – The good times for the Asheboro ZooKeepers mostly came late in the season for the collegiate summer baseball team.

The ZooKeepers finished with a 20-24 record in the Coastal Plain League, winning just two of their last six games. Their 12-11 mark in the second half was the second-best record in the West Division.

That was improvement from 2022, when Asheboro’s 14-33 overall record was the worst in the CPL.

The leading batter for the ZooKeepers was second baseman Cole Laskowski at .290 among players with enough plate appearances to qualify on the official league list.

Todd Hudson and Jared Beebe were tops for Asheboro in home runs with six apiece. Beebe led the team in runs batted in with 39 and Hudson was next with 27.

Tyler McPeak had a team-leading nine doubles despite not playing for nearly three weeks to end the season.

Pitcher Daniel Thompson posted a 2.05 earned run average in nine outings, including five starts. Jacob Halford had the most pitching victories as he racked up a 5-1 record.

First-year general manager Melissa Godwin said pitching depth became a shortcoming for the team. That was particularly evident late in the season.

The ZooKeepers began the season playing home games at UNC Greensboro’s baseball stadium because of a renovation project at McCrary Park that didn’t make it feasible to have fans at the ballpark.

Lleyton Lackey of Asheboro ZooKeepers enjoys a moment late in the season after hitting a home run. (PJ Ward-Brown/Randolph Record)

In the CPL’s official listing, the ZooKeepers were second-to-last among the 14 teams in home attendance with 609 spectators per opening.

The ZooKeepers were eliminated from postseason contention with the result in their final home game. The Forest City Owls won 4-2 at McCrary Park. Hudson and Dallas Callahan drove in the Asheboro runs.

Then there were three road games remaining on the schedule.

The first of those was cancelled because of weather at Martinsville, Va. Then came an 8-1 loss to the Florence Flamingos, with Asheboro’s run coming on Dylan Driver’s second home run of the season. Jaden Stockton took the loss.

Then Saturday night at Boone, Asheboro won 9-4 as Hudson drove in three runs and Driver and Laskowski both had three hits. Starting pitcher Drew Siegner worked five innings for his first victory of the season.

By Bob Sutton