Prep baseball: West Rowan 7, South Rowan 2
By David Shaw
MOUNT ULLA ó For West Rowan’s surging baseball team, it was worth the wait.
The start of the Falcons’ NPC game with visiting South Rowan was delayed for an hour and 53 minutes due to a scheduling mixup with umpires Tuesday night.
But when replacements Larry Sullivan and Joe Pinyan arrived on the scene shortly before 9 p.m., West jumped to an early lead and coasted to a 7-2 victory.
“That’s something you’ve got to be ready for,” winning coach David Wright said after West (8-6, 3-5) earned its fifth straight win. “It’s nothing more than a glorified rain delay. We were ready, whether the game started at seven or at nine.”
No one looked more ready than Zack Simpson. The left-handed sophomore had command of three pitches and threw into the sixth inning before tiring. He retired the first 11 batters he faced, fanning four and inducing six groundouts before South’s Maverick Miles broke up his perfect game with a single to center in the fourth.
“You know, we did hit the ball hard,” Miles said after South (10-3, 5-3) managed two hits and tumbled to three games out of first place in the league standings. “But it seemed to go right at them. Then we hurt ourselves with mental errors and mistakes.”The Raiders played poor defense, committing five errors behind losing pitcher Jordan Lowder. Three came in the last of the third, when West scored five runs and mounted a 6-0 lead.”Jordan didn’t have his best stuff,” South coach Linn Williams said, “and we didn’t play well for him. And give West credit. They did play well.”
Even Wright, who coaches several of the Raiders in Legion ball, was taken aback by South’s porous defense.
“That was very uncharacteristic of them,” he said. “I know all those kids from the summer ó and they make those plays most of the time.”
West opened the scoring in the last of the second when Carlos Bautista (2-for-2 with two doubles) drew a walk, raced to third on an error and scored when Matt Sheets lined a two-out single to left.
The Falcons cracked the game open an inning later. Three runs were unearned, but key hits were delivered by Brantley Horton, Philip Miclat and Bautista. Horton drove a leadoff home run over the 20-foot-high fence in left field for his first ó and the team’s third ó homer of the season. Miclat followed with a sharp single to right, and Bautista lined a two-out double to right-center.”We struggled at the beginning of the year,” Horton said. “But we’ve been swinging the bats lately. We got going at our Easter tournament (in Whiteville), and it’s carried over.”
By the top of the sixth West had a 7-0 lead. Wright said a key was keeping the speedy Raiders off the basepaths. The guests put only one man on through the first four innings.”We kept them off base,” Wright said. “Running the bases and stealing, that’s one of their strengths. When we got ahead of them it kind of shut their running game down.”
South got on the scoreboard when Ryan Bostian coaxed a leadoff walk in the sixth and Miles crushed a two-run homer to straight-away center.
Two batters later Simpson ó who lost sight of the plate and walked five of the last nine batters he faced ó was relieved by D.J. Webb, who smoothed the edges with two scoreless innings.
“I was throwing strikes and had control of all of my pitches,” said Simpson, now 4-1. “I also had a great defense and good pitch-calling by my catcher (Hernan Bautista). It just felt great out there.”
Even if Simpson had to wait nearly two hours to take the mound?
“It didn’t bother me,” he said. “I did the same thing I always do. I just had to do it twice.”