• 61°

South wins Peeler title: Penniger’s 9th-inning homer propels Raiders

By David Shaw
Salisbury Post
Anyone who hasn’t heard of Preston Penninger can check with Davie County for a reference.
With one swing of his bat Monday night, the South Rowan freshman ended a drama-filled, nine-inning battle in the Cliff Peeler Classic championship game. And with that same swing ó one that produced a walk-off, two-run home run at Salisbury High School ó South gained a 5-3 victory and its first Easter tournament crown in 12 years.
“I’m just glad we came out on top,” said Penninger, a 15-year old catcher who blasted a 1-0 fastball from Davie reliever Clint Howell over the left-field fence. “They were throwing it pretty good and keeping us off-balance. I was just trying to hit it hard somewhere and help the team.”
Penninger’s first varsity home run gave South (10-2) its first Peeler title since 1996 and forced defending champ Davie (9-2) to abdicate the throne.
“I’ve seen that kid play for a long time,” Davie coach Mike Herndon said. “He’s always been able to hit. I’ve just never seen him hit one that far.”
For South coach Linn Williams, it was a cool way to wrap up a cool evening. Confined to the dugout for questioning a call in the sixth inning, he helped the celebrating Raiders turn the home plate area into a mosh pit.
“It does feel good,” Williams said. “It’s one of those things, before I quit coaching, that I wanted to have. I’m real happy my seniors and the rest of my guys were able to get me one.”
They got it in a roundabout way. Davie built and squandered leads of 1-0 and 2-1 against South right-hander Michael Morgan, then left the bases loaded against winning pitcher Jordan Lowder in both the eighth and ninth innings.
“It was a game of blown opportunities for the War Eagles,” Herndon said. “We got picked off at first base twice. We hadn’t been making errors but we made three of ’em ó one on a double-play ball ó and they took advantage.
“Sometimes that’s just the way it goes.”
It went South’s way in the bottom of fifth inning, when Penninger sparked a two-run rally by drawing a leadoff walk from Davie starter Garrett Benge. Then Blake Houston skipped a grounder to second baseman Zeb Cope, who misplayed the ball. Following a fielder’s choice and a stolen base, the Raiders had two runners in scoring position with two outs.
That brought up infielder Maverick Miles ó a sophomore who went 6-for-12 with seven RBIs in three tournament games. He served a clutch, two-run single into left field to give South a 3-2 lead.
Davie tied the score an inning later when Benge coaxed a leadoff walk, stole second and scored on Jess Cartner’s single up the middle.
It remained tied through the seventh and eight innings. South’s winning rally began when Matt Ingold opened the last of the ninth with a bloop single to right against hard-throwing DC pitcher Howell. One out later Penninger sent the crowd home with a round-tripper that was in the books while it was still in the air.
“The way this game was going, it was gonna come down to whoever made the first mistake,” Ingold said. “It was an amazing swing ó no doubt about it.”
Well, not from Penninger’s perspective.
“I was hoping it would get to the gap,” he said. “But in a way, I knew it had a chance to go out by the way it came off the bat. I got it good.”
n
NOTES: South hadn’t allowed a run in 17 innings before Davie’s Jess Cartner lined a run-scoring double in the top of the first. He had three hits and two RBIs. … Benge made his first start since 2006 and yielded only one earned run in five innings. …Penninger was 3-for-8 in the tournament with two extra-base hits. Teammate Ryan Bostian was named South’s tourney MVP, while third baseman Zach Russell-Myers was honored for Davie.

Contact David Shaw at dshaw@salisburypost.com.

Comments

Comments closed.

Local

‘Meet the need’: Rowan County Health Department looks to add to vaccination options

Local

Seaford is first woman in county hired for town manager position since the ’90s

Local

Colonial Spring Frolic makes a comeback to kick off museum’s year

Local

Concord City Council wants to name bridge for fallen officer, Rowan native

Education

RSS administration will recommend selling Faith Elementary property to charter school

Business

Inspired by advice from father-in-law, Angela Mills launches her own business in memory of him

Local

Rowan County Democrats re-elect leaders, pass resolutions

Local

Baseball: Memories come alive in Ferebee book

Local

During Child Abuse Prevention Month, local groups reflect on detecting abuse in a virtual world

Business

Biz Roundup: Small Business Center announces spring slate of workshop for business owners

Clubs

Kiwanis Pancake Festival starts Friday

Local

Rowan fire marshal seeks to clear up confusion, worry caused by solicitation letter

Education

Fun every day: Fifth anniversary for Yadkin Path Montessori School

Nation/World

Charles: Royal family ‘deeply grateful’ for support for Philip

News

North Carolina sites to resume J&J vaccines after CDC review

News

Cooper OKs bill offering K-12 students summer school option

High School

High school football: Playoff time means get ready for ‘big-boy football’

High School

High school football: Hornets overpower South to secure playoff spot

Crime

Jeffrey MacDonald won’t be released despite deteriorating health

Business

Amazon warehouse workers reject union in Alabama

Nation/World

Ex-NFL player’s brain to be probed for trauma-related harm after Rock Hill shootings

Education

Duke University to require COVID vaccinations for fall term

Education

Cooper OKs bill offering K-12 students summer school option

High School

High school football: Record night for Pinckney as East cruises; Carson wins thriller in OT