Prep Baseball: East no-hit in extra-inning loss
By Bret Strelow
BELMONT ó East Rowan didn’t officially register a hit, but South Point pitcher Zach Horne exited the mound for the final time needing offensive help to earn a victory.
Jordan Edgerton raced home from third base on Weston Lawing’s two-out single in the bottom of the eighth inning, and South Point prevailed 1-0 in the opening game of the 3A Western championship series Thursday night.
Lawing fouled off a pair of 0-2 pitches from East starter Corbin Shive before delivering the hit that made a winner out of Horne, a Belmont Abbey signee who no-hit the Mustangs (26-3) while allowing only three baserunners in the extra-inning affair.
“That pitcher is the best we’ve seen; he was unhittable,” East coach Brian Hightower said. “He mixed his pitches well, threw his curveball in fastball counts. When you have a night like this ó and we haven’t had one in a while ó you’ve gotta tip your hat and say they were better than us tonight.
“We’ve got a lot of character and a lot of class on this team, and if I had to have a team down 1-0 in a two-of-three, I’d take these guys any day of the week.”
East, which watched its 22-game winning streak come to an end, must defeat South Point at home tonight and on the road Saturday to reach the state championship series.
Neither head coach revealed a probable starter for Game 2 at Staton Field, where the Mustangs will attempt to bounce back from their first setback since March 12.
“We have to completely throw it out,” Shive said. “It doesn’t matter now. We can’t do anything about it now, so we have to come in ready to play and get something going.”
The Red Raiders (20-8) picked up their fourth one-run win in five playoff games thanks to the work of Horne, a left-hander. He retired the first 17 batters from East Rowan before issuing a two-out walk to Ben DeCelle in the sixth inning.
Micah Jarrett walked in the seventh, and East had its best chance to score in the eighth.
Zach Smith hit a high chopper over the mound to begin the final inning, and shortstop Ryan Huneycutt had to rush a throw to first base. The low offering eluded Lawing’s glove, and Smith advanced to second. A hit and error were posted on the scoreboard, but the official book credited Huneycutt with a two-base error. The ruling could have gone either way, and a clean single is often required to break up a no-hitter.
Horne (10-3) responded by fanning the next three batters, and the hitter looked at the third strike in each case. Smith, who stole third with one out, was left stranded 90 feet from home.
“I hit my spots and pitched how I know I could pitch,” said Horne, who finished with 10 strikeouts. “I tried to keep my composure and stay smooth the whole time.”
Shive, who fell to 11-1, allowed a leadoff double to Edgerton in the bottom of the eighth inning. Shive struck out Huneycutt, intentionally walked Horne and forced Chris Lane to hit into a fielder’s choice. First baseman Trey Holmes moved several steps to his right to field Lane’s grounder, and a forceout at second base left South Point with runners at the corners.
Lawing fell behind in the count but hit a bloop single that dropped in front of a charging Jarrett in center.
“You couldn’t ask for no more out of Corbin,” East shortstop Justin Roland said. “He pitched a great game ó one of his better games. He had his good stuff, but it was just the offense’s fault tonight.”
Shive, who allowed seven hits and totaled eight strikeouts, received plenty of help from his defense.
A hard grounder bounced through Shive’s legs in the second inning, but Roland fielded the ball behind second base and fired to first for the third out.
South Point had a runner on third with no outs in the fourth inning when third baseman Noah Holmes made a diving stop. He threw home to catcher Austin Shull, who tagged Huneycutt for the first out. Courtesy runner Spencer Wiles attempted to go from first to third on a two-out single to center in the same inning, but Jarrett threw a dart that beat Wiles to the bag.
The Red Raiders had runners on first and third with one out in the seventh, and Shive escaped that jam.
“I thought (Shive) pitched great, and I was very impressed with the way they played defense,” South Point coach Jason Lineberger said. “There were a couple balls I hadn’t seen anybody make a play on that they made.”
Contact Bret Strelow at 704-797-4258 or email@example.com.
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