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Shaw column: Shive just keeps on winning

GRANITE QUARRY ó The more time you spend watching East Rowan right-hander Corbin Shive this postseason, the more you realize anything is possible.
And watching Shive tip-toe through a minefield Friday night was something special.
“This wasn’t an easy night to play baseball or to pitch,” coach Brian Hightower said after Shive stayed the course for six shutout innings in a third-round win over Lake Norman. “The ball was slick. The field was wet. And really, we haven’t had any cold weather in so long, it was hard to come out here and throw with this wind and everything else.”
Shive ó a junior with a plus-fastball and an assortment of off-speed nastiness ó wasn’t phased by anything Mother Nature threw at him. But he was forced to be more of a laborer than a craftsman, bulldozing his way through LN’s time-bomb of a lineup. By the time he was spelled by Cody Laws in the top of the seventh, he’d struck out eight and scattered five singles, improved to 10-0 and lowered his ERA to a microscopic 1.07.
“Ah, this just feels good,” Shive said with a warm smile afterward. “With this defense behind me, all I have to do is throw strikes. I know they’re gonna make plays. You just get a strikeout every now and then, and there’s nothing to it.”
Shive over-simplified his accomplishment. Consider that he hasn’t allowed a run 13 state playoff innings, helping the 25-2 Mustangs extend their winning streak to 21 games and remain unbeaten at Staton Field. More importantly, he propelled East into Tuesday’s fourth-round match with Mooresville.
“Whatever he does, Corbin never ceases to impress you” said Hightower. “Every time he comes out it’s something else.”
What he did best last night was steer clear of danger. When Lake Norman put runners on the corners with one out in the top of the second inning, he watched catcher Austin Shull gun down would-be base-stealer Nick Keith with a perfect throw to second base.
And when the Wildcats collected a pair of singles in the fifth, Shive escaped by inducing leadoff man Kevin Gradert to wave at a third strike before showing Shane Denton an inning-ending curve on the corner.
No one wore a bigger grin than Hightower.
“You play a seven-inning ballgame, you’re gonna find yourself in a couple of jams,” he said. “And every time he got himself in a jam, he got himself out of it. He just seems to be at his best when he gets in trouble.”
Lake Norman catcher Eric Manser can attest to that.
“In the first round we saw two pitchers who were much better than him,” he said, tossing a verbal bouquet at Southeast Guilford’s Cam Cockman and Austin Moyer. “They threw harder and had better breaking balls. But Shive, he had very good placement. He could put his curveball in hard-to-hit spots.”
Losing pitcher Nick Lomascolo added more insight.
“He really had his off-speed stuff working,” the junior lefty said. “He did what good pitchers do ó kept us off-balance. You could never sit on one pitch because you never knew what he was gonna throw.”
Shive remained even-keeled ó and later indicated he wasn’t at his best. But trying convincing Lake Norman of that.
“I never really got into a rhythm,” he said. “The first couple innings I was pretty good. But in the third and fourth I started falling behind in the count and had to fight my way through. I could have been better.”
OK, so this wasn’t domination, just deliverance. What matters most is that the Mustangs live to fight another day.
“It’s the playoffs, the best time of the year,” Shive said with another smile. “Can’t get any better. I’m lovin’ it.”

Contact David Shaw at dshaw@salisburypost.com.

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