Prep Baseball: North beats fifth-ranked West Montgomery
SPENCER — Doing all the little things helped North Rowan’s baseball team earn a brand-name victory Friday night.
So did one big throwing error by visiting West Montgomery.
“Little things win ballgames,” third-baseman Clint Veal said after North prevailed 3-1 in a pivotal YVC matchup. “And those two runs were a big morale booster for this team.”
Those two runs snapped a 1-1 tie and crossed thanks to a wild throw by WM second-baseman Rusty Brown with two out in the bottom of the fifth inning.
“That’s a really good team right there,” North coach Aaron Rimer said after the Cavs (4-5 overall) won their second straight and improved to 2-4 in conference play. “They might end up playing for a state championship. Now our guys know they can play with anybody.”
West (6-3, 4-2), the fifth-ranked 1A team in the state, \trails only South Stanly in the standings and received strong pitching from righthander Cody McKenzie, who scattered six hits and struck out eight in six well-crafted innings.
“He did an excellent job,” losing coach Sammy Jackson said. “Our whole team did. We hit the ball hard but we seemed to hit it right at them.”
North senior Travis Holshouser was the chief beneficiary. The lanky righthander pitched his second complete game of the season and earned his first triumph in three decisions. Blending a fastball, curve and changeup, he yielded eight hits — including four doubles — while navigating his way in and out of trouble.
“Today wasn’t one of my best days,” he said afterward. “But my defense was great. Without them, I wouldn’t have lasted very long.”
North shortstop Thomas Tucker bailed Holshouser out in the top of the first. With the bases loaded and one down, he fielded Ben Creger’s grounder, stepped on the bag at second and fired to first-baseman Brandon White for an inning-ending double play.
“Travis threw a heck of a game,” Veal said after collecting three hits. “He was just working fast, getting people out and doing his thing.”
That momentum carried over to the last of the first, when NR leadoff batter Chance Mazza stroked McKenzie first pitch for a table-setting two-base hit.
“I wasn’t looking for an outside fastball,” Mazza noted. “But that’s what he gave me — a nice, clean outside fastball.”
The lefty-swinging Mazza lined the ball down the left-field line. He advanced to second on a passed ball and scored the game’s first run when Veal crunched a 1-2 pitch over the center fielder’s head for an RBI double. “I just relaxed and stayed smooth through the ball,” he said.
West tied the score when Holshouser ran into double trouble in the top of the third. With one away Brad Absher and McKenzie knocked back-to-back doubles.
It stayed that way until the North fifth.A pair of walks and Rhett Hellard’s sacrifice bunt gave the Cavs two runners inscoring position with one out. Then freshman Jake Pritchard lined out to Brown — a rocket that the infielder quickly snagged. When Brown hastily tried to double off courtesy runner Austin Gelow at third base, he fired the ball high and wide and into a batting practice cage located in dead ball territory. After a brief discussion, the plate umpire ruled both runners could score.
The rest was up to Holshouser, who induced 13 flyball outs enjoyed his only 1-2-3 inning in the top of the seventh.
“I don’t think he had his best stuff today,” Rimer acknowledged. “But he battled. He bulldogged his way through it.”