Prep Baseball: South’s season over
By Ron Wagner
RUTHERFORDTON ó Teams with three regular-season losses aren’t supposed to be challenged in thefirst round of 64-team playoff brackets, but somebody forgot to tell South Rowan.The Raiders gave homestanding R-S Central all it could handle for 51/2 innings on Friday night before succumbing to the Hilltoppers and sterling senior pitcher Ryan Arrowood, 8-0, in a game that was much closer than the score indicates.
South trailed only 2-0 before Central erupted for six runs on six hits in the bottom of the sixth to blow the contest open, ending the Raiders’season at 16-9. Though South was the fourth seed from the Northern Piedmont Conference, its record was the best of any team facing a top seed in the 3-A tournament’s opening round.Hilltoppers coach Chris White knew his squad, which advanced to the semifinals last year, would be in for an early battle.
“I knew they were in a tough conference. East Rowan and Mooresville’s in there ó they played good teams all year,” he said. “So I knew it was a tough draw for us.”
South pitcher Ryan Bostian handcuffed Central batters for five innings, allowing one earned run and only two hard-hit balls. But as well as he pitched, he couldn’t match Arrowood ó easily the best pitcher in Central school history and arguably the best in the state this year.
A senior right-hander who has signed with Appalachian State, Arrowood improved to 9-0 with a two-hit shut out, walking one, striking out nine and not allowing a runner to reach second base over seven innings
Arrowood is now 23-2 over the past two seasons, and he has 359 career strikeouts and counting.
“We were trying our best to get somebody on base and put some pressure on them. He’s an excellent pitcher,” said South assistant, who was filling in for suspended head coach Linn Williams. “He gets ahead, fills up the zone, mixes up his off-speed stuff. He’s real polished. Everything I’d heard about him is true.”
Bostian faltered in the sixth, giving up five consecutive singles to start the inning before he was lifted for Jordan Lowder, who then walked Arrowood and gave up another single to Keith Snethen before the Raiders were able to limp to the dugout.
Lowder’s infield single with two outs in the fifth broke up Arrowood’s no-hitter, and Bostian hit a hard liner to right center in the seventh. But any chances South had were snuffed out by having a runner picked off in the sixth and two thrown out stealing by Snethen.
The Raiders also didn’t help their cause by committing three errors and being charged with two passed balls and two wild pitches.
“It was a tough battle, but our kids were hanging in there,” Chrismon said. “I thought we put some good at-bats in there and tried to do some small-ball things and get somebody moved around, but they played the better seven innings. We just kind of fell apart at the end.
“It wasn’t for lack of effort ó those guys were trying their hardest to make those plays. Sometimes when you try a little bit too hard you make a mistake, and a good team such as R-S Central is going to take advantage of it.”
Arrowood turned on a two-strike fastball from Bostian and deposited it deep over the fence in left-center in the third to make it 1-0, and moments later the Hilltoppers benefitted from the sun setting behind the first-base line when third baseman Caleb Shore lost Snethen’s chopper in the glare to allow Snethen to reach. He scored on a thorwing error with two outs.
“I thought (Bostian) did an excellent job. He kept us off-balance, kept the ball down and away,” White said. “We were able to break it open in the bottom half of the sixth to spread it out a little bit, but it was tight all the way through. … Ryan only had nine Ks and he averages 14 a game, so they’ve got a good ballclub.”
Ron Wagner lives in Hendersonville and is the former sports editor of the hendersonville Times-News.
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