Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 17, 2007
By Mike London
GRANITE QUARRY Central Cabarrus coach Bryan Tyson expected to see Ross Steedley warming up in the bullpen when he arrived at Staton Field for the first round of the 4A state playoffs.
Instead, the senior was wearing a chest protector, and sophomore Corbin Shive was on the hill for the Mustangs.
It wasnt a break for the Vikings (17-6). Shive pitched a three-hitter and steered the Mustangs to a convincing 7-2 victory.
East (20-7) got a scare when a ball was foul-tipped off Steedleys collar bone in the fourth inning, but Austin Shull replaced him behind the plate, and Shive kept throwing strikes.
That Shive kid deserves a lot of credit, and hes gonna be a horse, Tyson said. His breaker was moving away, the umpire was giving both pitchers a little off the plate, and he just stayed out there. We kept trying to pull those outside pitches, and he kept getting outs.
Shive struck out six, got nine outs on groundballs and had to pitch from the stretch only once. Two of Centrals three hits left the park. Shane Reedy clobbered a decent pitch away for an opposite-field homer in the second inning. Jamie Hatley turned a hanging curveball into a souvenir right before Steedley got hurt.
They hit two bombs off me, Shive said sheepishly. But I didnt walk anybody, we didnt make any errors, and we hit the ball.
East coach Brian Hightower said the game followed his favorite script: good pitching, great defense, find a way to score five runs.
When you hold a team thats won 17 games to three hits, youve done a great job, he said. I loved the way Corbin pitched. He got ahead 80-85 percent of the time.
Quick-working, pound-the-strike zone hurlers such as Shive are easy to play defense behind, and the Mustangs made the plays. Nothing spectacular, but shortstop Justin Roland made long throws, first baseman Trey Holmes was agile around the bag, and D.C. Cranford chased down a few well-struck balls in center.
Central righty Jeff Council stopped East for two innings, but the Mustangs got their bats going in the third.
The first time through the lineup he kind of surprised us because he was throwing his curveball on any count, East infielder Micah Jarrett said.In the third, Will Johnson walked, and Rolands one-out single put runners on the corners. Holmes singled sharply up the middle for a 1-1 tie. After Steedley punched a single, Jarrett hammered a two-run double that banged against the right-field fence.
It was a high, outside pitch, Jarrett said. I was trying hard to get a run in, so I stayed with it.
Tyson said Council, a six-game winner, had his toughest outing all season and struggled to adjust to the mound.
Usually, hes throwing three pitches for strikes, but he never did adust to the mound here, Tyson said. It does drop off in a hurry, but thats no excuse. Every mound isnt going to be exactly like your mound at home.
It was a still a tense 3-2 game in the bottom of the fourth when Zach Smith reached on a two-out error on a grounder wide of first base. Then Roland made the Vikings pay with a two-run homer down the left-field line.
We messed up a play we work on all the time, Tyson said. That opens the door for the home run, breaks the game open.
Rolands homer took the weight off Shive, and East tacked on two more runs when Centrals defense unraveled in the sixth.
Justins homer reduced a lot of the pressure, Shive said. I like to pitch ahead.
nNOTES: Steedley was in good spirits and is expected back for Easts second-round home game against Davie County. The CPC rivals will meet for the fourth time. East won two classic struggles, and Davie (19-8) took the last meeting in the Easter tournament.
Contact Mike London at 704-797-4259 or email@example.com.