Prep Baseball: West loses, but backs into the playoffs
By David Shaw
STATESVILLE — West Rowan has backed into the No. 4 seed in next week’s NPC tournament, but it left quite a mess in its wake Friday night.
The Falcons played defense like it was someone else’s job, committing eight errors and allowing nine unearned runs in its regular-season finale at West Iredell.
“It’s definitely not the way we want to limp in to the postseason,” coach Chad Parker said after WR lost 12-10. “You can’t make errors and expect to beat teams. I don’t care who it is — West Iredell, Statesville, the New York Yankees. You’re not gonna beat people kicking it around the infield.”
The loss was West Rowan’s fifth in its past seven games. It finished 6-6 in league play (16-7 overall) and will open the tournament Monday at home against fifth-seeded North Iredell.
“We just had that one bad inning,” sophomore outfielder Harrison Baucom said. “This shows how one bad inning can really cost you.”
The bad inning was West Iredell’s bottom of the fifth. The Warriors (6-13, 4-8) scored nine unearned runs — courtesy of five Falcon errors — to turn a 6-3 deficit into a six-run lead.
“It was a rough inning, but it happens,” said junior catcher Michael Pinkston. “I guess it was our time. It’s really hard to come back after something like that.”
West Rowan used a five-run third inning to move in front. Key moments included Hunter Teeter’s second run-scoring double of the game, Juan Garcia’s bases-loaded walk and Baucom’s two-out, line-drive RBI single to right-center field.
“It’s all about seeing the ball and hitting the ball,” Baucom said after going 4-for-5 and scoring three times. “We took over the game one hit at a time.”
WR finished with 14 hits, but its swiss-cheese defense was full of holes. The unfortunate victim was losing pitcher Nick Collins, the junior reliever who struck out five and allowed just one hit in his first three innings after spelling ineffective starter Michael Ball.
“It was probably his longest outing of the year,” Parker said. “But it doesn’t matter who is on the mound. We’ve got to make plays and get our guys off the field.”
If Collins’ first three innings of work sounded like sweet music, his fourth sounded like the brass section dropping their instruments. West Iredell sent 13 batters to the plate, collected three singles and had eight other baserunners reach on walks, hit batsmen or errors.
“Our kids hit the ball hard on the ground,” said winning coach Randy Martin after the Warriors finished sixth in the standings. “We put the ball in play. But I know West Rowan is a lot better than that. We just did what we had to do.”
Collins was charged with seven runs allowed, all of them unearned, in 3 2/3 innings. Baucom and Teeter each had a pair of doubles and reserve first-baseman Micah Marsh went 2-for-2 with a double after entering the game in the fifth inning.
“One bad inning,” Pinkston muttered afterward. “You can have all the talent in the world, but a nine-run inning puts you in one tough spot.”
NOTES: West had beaten West Iredell 6-2 when the teams met on March 26. ... The Falcons enter postseason play on a two-game losing streak. They’ve already beaten North Iredell twice — 11-1 in five innings early in the season and 10-2 on April 18.