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Prep Baseball Notebook

By Mike London
Salisbury Post
The prep baseball notebook …
East Rowan and Salisbury clinched shares of conference championships with victories on Tuesday.
Rowan schools have now won a dozen regular-season titles since 2000. East, West and North have accounted for three championships apiece in that span. South’s won two, and Salisbury logged its first since 1984.
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MUSTANG MANIA: East’s top three pitchers are a combined 16-0, Justin Roland has been a flawless closer and coach Brian Hightower’s lineup includes eight regulars batting .323 or higher.
The batting averages are strong in a league in which eight of 10 teams send a legitimate ace to the mound.
East (18-2) has shut out five NPC opponents and has the most talented Rowan squad since West’s 3A runner-up team in 2004.
No Rowan team has won a state title since East’s power-hitting 1995 club belted 36 homers and 19 triples. Coach Jeff Safrit’s East team put together a 16-game winning streak to close the 1995 season. The current Mustangs have won 14 in a row.
East is ranked second in 3A in the latest Impact Baseball poll behind Southeast Guilford. There are no unbeaten teams in 3A. n
ROCKWELL ROCKET: East’s No. 9 batter, left fielder Ben DeCelle, has hit only one double, but he may already have set an unofficial county record for infield singles and is batting an even .400.
On two-hoppers to shortstop, DeCelle is easily safe. Last week, he beat out a routine bouncer to third that was fielded cleanly.
Hightower says DeCelle is the fastest player home-to-first he’s ever coached.
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HORNET HEROES: Salisbury junior shortstop Robbie Ijames was the fastest player timed in State Games tryouts and has been a terror all year.He’s hit safely in 18 of 21 outings, including 11 multi-hit games. On his way to a county-leading .538 batting average, Ijames has posted two 4-for-4s and two 3-for-3s.
Ledford wanted no part of him in Tuesday’s showdown and walked him three times. The 0-for-0 stopped a nine-game hitting streak.Ijames is 2-1 in spot duty on the mound and has six homers and 19 steals, but he still has serious competition just to maintain family bragging rights.
Center fielder David Ijames, also a junior, whacked his county-high 10th double against Ledford. He has driven in 23 runs, stolen 17 bases and ranks third in the county in batting at .443. He’s 2-0 on the hill ó with a no-hitter.
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IRONMAN: South senior outfielder Ryan Bostian is known as a solid offensive player ó .348, 22 runs, 13 steals ó but he also hasn’t been knocked out of a game in six starts on the mound.
Bostian (4-2) has worked seven innings four times. He tossed a five-inning shutout against North Rowan and threw six in a loss at East.
His other loss was 3-2 to Northwest Cabarrus’ Davidson signee Ryan Overcash.
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NOT OVER: West stood 3-6 overall and 1-5 in the NPC at its low point, but the Falcons have rebounded to chase one of the league’s six playoff berths. The Falcons have won eight of their last 11, and young players such as second baseman Tyler King and pitcher Zack Simpson are hitting their stride.
West could post its ninth straight winning season, but the schedule is tough the rest of the way. The Falcons may wind up kicking themselves for a 3-2 loss at Statesville ó the Hounds’ only NPC win.
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FEEL FOR VEAL: North Rowan senior Billy Veal has lost while throwing a one-hitter, a three-hitter and a four-hitter. He’s 1-6, despite a county-high 63 strikeouts.
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LEADING THE FLOCK: Junior Randy Shepherd has been the standout for Carson. He’s 5-3 on the mound, leads the county in innings pitched and was clocked at 88 mph at State Games tryouts.
Offensively, freshman shortstop Gunnar Hogan is getting sharper in the field and is batting .367.
Six Cougars have averages between .295 and .310.
Sophomore catcher Tyler Freeze is missing games after a ball struck him in the face last week, but he and freshman Joseph Basinger give Carson a very bright future behind the plate.

Contact Mike London at 704-797-4259 or mlondon@salisburypost.com.

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