Round 2 of prep baseball playoffs tonight
By Mike London
Round 2 of the high school baseball playoffs continues tonight, but this is Round 3 for West Rowan and Mooresville, and neither is a lightweight.
The NPC neighbors split regular-season matchups. Mooresville grabbed a 6-0 victory in Mount Ulla in early April, but the Falcons wrecked Mooresville’s senior celebration last week with a 5-4 victory. Wounds from that disappointment are still fresh for all the Blue Devils (19-5).
West wasn’t guaranteed a playoff spot until it beat Mooresville to claim a No. 5 seed, but the surging Falcons proved they belonged in the postseason with a tense 2-1 victory that eliminated SPC kingpin Marvin Ridge.
West (15-10) saved Mooresville serious gas money. The Blue Devils would have been headed to Waxhaw to play Marvin Ridge today. Instead, the Falcons handed their neighbors a home game.
Mooresville, which won the NPC in 2007 and finished second to East Rowan this season, is talented and experienced and has rebounded from a disastrous stretch in mid-April that included lopsided losses to East Rowan and Northwest Cabarrus.
Mooresville-West matchups always stir a little heat because the players know each other so well. Some West players, such as third baseman Brantley Horton, live much closer to Mooresville than Salisbury and grew up playing on teams with the Mooresville guys.
When West played Lake Norman late in the season in Mount Ulla, a third of the crowd must have been interested Mooresville fans.
At least three of Mooresville’s stars ó pitcher/first baseman Aubrey Meadows, catcher Aaron Meadows and shortstop Dylan West ó have Rowan roots. They are grandchildren of a large family that grew up in Mount Ulla. That family includes Donald “Whitey” Meadows, who coached Mooresville’s Legion team for more than three decades, and Franklin Meadows, the ironman who hurled both games of a doubleheader when Mount Ulla High beat Mount Pleasant for the Granite Belt championship in 1956.
Aubrey Meadows, a lefty headed to Charlotte, pitched a complete game in Mooresville’s 6-4 first-round victory at Fred T. Foard.
West Rowan hopes to see someone other than Aubrey Meadows tonight, even if it’s Johan Santana. Meadows has fanned 17 Falcons in nine innings this season. He also homered against West Rowan last season, so it’s obvious he gets extra adrenaline flowing when he faces the Falcons.
Junior Aaron Meadows, Aubrey’s brother, is the regular catcher, but he mowed down Falcon hitters in two complete-game mound efforts last season.
Chris Beaver, a hard-throwing right-hander, is someone most West hitters haven’t seen and could get the call. An injury kept Beaver from pitching last year and he didn’t throw in either game against West this season.
West right-hander Jake Koontz started both of West’s games against Mooresville and allowed six earned runs in 10 innings. He’s a well-rested option for tonight, along with D.J. Webb and Horton.
Sophomore lefty Zack Simpson (8-2) has emerged as West’s ace, but he threw nine innings last week, including seven on Friday. He could be available for an inning or two on three days of rest, if the Falcons are in a position to advance.
Both teams made statements last week. West won a road playoff game for the first time since 2004. Mooresville atoned for an upset loss to Winston-Salem Parkland in the first round of last year’s playoffs.
The wins by West and Mooresville were part of a spectacular Friday feast for the NPC. East won as expected, while Mooresville beat a fellow No. 2 seed. West, Northwest Cabarrus and Lake Norman went on the road and knocked out No. 1s.
That strong performance wasn’t a shock. Four NPC teams took Easter tournament championships, while East Rowan was winning three straight games on an excursion to Florida.
West’s tournament championship in Whiteville was a turning point. The Falcons stood 2-5 in the NPC before Easter.
Who’s hot? West leadoff man Tyler King owns a 10-game hitting streak and has batted .514 in that span.
What’s Next? The winner of tonight’s game is on the road against Kernersville Glenn or Jamestown Ragsdale.
Piedmont at East Rowan
A.L. Brown, which didn’t make the playoffs, beat SPC runner-up Piedmont twice during the regular season.
That gives you an idea of how big an underdog Piedmont is heading to Staton Field tonight for a 3A second-round game.
East (23-2) didn’t scare anyone offensively in a 3-0 first-round win over Southwestern Randolph, but the Mustangs have won 19 straight and haven’t lost a home game yet.
Shortstop Justin Roland, who has allowed one run (a homer by Mooresville’s Dylan West) in 29 innings on the mound, may pitch tonight, with center fielder Micah Jarrett moving to shortstop.
Cody Laws, Trey Holmes and Kent Basinger are also solid pitching options.
Who’s hot? East outfielder Zach Smith has hit safely in eight of his last nine games while driving in 14 runs.
Who’s next? If East wins, it will play host to the Southwest Guilford-Lake Norman winner. Many projected East to be on the road for a showdown at Southeast Guilford in the third round, but Lake Norman left-hander Nick Lomascolo shuffled the brackets last week when he fanned 13 SEG hitters.
Salisbury at Starmount
Salisbury is on the road again in the 2A playoffs, but the Hornets (17-8) don’t mind heading to Boonville.
Salisbury’s veterans have won four road playoff games the last three seasons.
Alex Britt pitched the Hornets to a first-round win. Ben Ijames is the likely hurler tonight against the Rams (14-9). Tyler Jackson (seven regular-season wins, 100-plus strikeouts) is usually the player to watch for Starmount.
Who’s hot? SHS shortstop Robbie Ijames is permanently hot. He’s 15-for-28 (.536) in Salisbury’s last nine games and that stretch actually lowered his batting average.
Outfielder David Ijames is also heating up again after a brief slump. He has six hits in the Hornets’ last two games.
Who’s next? If Salisbury wins, it will play host to Surry Central or make a familiar trip to Central Davidson.
Davie at North Meck
In 4A, Davie (16-8) travels to Huntersville to take on North Meck after enjoying a 15-0, first-round stroll over Harding.
North Meck (20-4) is talented but beatable. Northwest Cabarrus beat North Meck in the Intimidators Easter tournament championship game.
North Meck right-hander Sean Pope is one of the state’s best players.
Contact Mike London at 704-797-4259 or firstname.lastname@example.org.