Prep Baseball: East Rowan completes perfect NPC season
By Bill Kiser
Salisbury PostSTATESVILLE ó Scratch two items off East Rowan’s list of goals for the 2008 season.
The Mustangs capped an undefeated run through the North Piedmont Conference with a 15-0 victory against Statesville on Monday night.
Overcoming a slow start, East (22-2, 18-0) got itself in gear behind 13 hits ó six for extra bases ó and three Mustang pitchers combining to hold the Greyhounds (2-18, 1-17) to two hits.
And that allowed East’s players to scratch another item off their “things-to-do” list ó give Mustangs head coach Brian Hightower a Gatorade dousing after completing an undefeated run through the conference schedule.
“Yeah, me and all the seniors have been thinking about doing that for a while,” said ER shortstop Justin Roland, who had two hits and three RBIs.
“We thought about doing it after clinching the conference, but the more we thought about it, it seemed to be better doing it after we got No. 18.”
And it sends the Mustangs into the 3A playoffs on a big roll ó 18 consecutive wins will do that for a team ó entering Friday’s first-round game in Granite Quarry.
“Once we got through the halfway point and got a couple games in, (going undefeated in the NPC) became one of our goals,” Hightower said. “It’s nice to achieve that; now we’ve got to see where it takes us in the playoffs. We don’t want to lose that momentum.”
It was East’s pitchers who started off with the momentum Monday.
Kent Basinger, making his first start in two months after dislocating his kneecap in early March, gave up both Statesville hits in the second inning, but he went on to strike out four in four innings.
Cody Laws struck out four over two no-hit innings, and Trey Holmes closed out the seventh by retiring the side, with his strikeout on Matt Bowers clinching the Mustangs’ undefeated NPC run.
With strong pitching keeping the Greyhounds in check, East’s offense had time to get going ó and get going big.
The Mustangs took the lead on Roland’s two-run single in the top of the second inning and tacked on four more runs in the third on Zack Smith’s three-run homer and a bases-loaded walk.
East added a solo run in the fourth and two more in the fifth, then put the game away with a six-run seventh inning.
“I think we were sorta looking ahead at the playoffs because we knew Statesville was at the bottom,” Hightower said. “But this is a smart group. They know what’s expected of them, and they know the adjustments they need to make.”