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Prep baseball: South Rowan 12, A.L. Brown 4

By Mike London
mlondon@salisburypost.com
KANNAPOLIS ó A.L. Brown’s baseball team is in the midst of an unfortunate scheduling stretch more befitting the Atlanta Braves.The recent snowfall contributed to the Wonders facing five games in six days, starting with last Thursday’s SPC game at Anson and ending with today’s home game with league favorite Marvin Ridge.
Rested and ready, South Rowan took advantage of a pitching staff running on empty and belted the Wonders 12-4 in a non-conference game Monday at Veterans Field.
“With them throwing four different pitchers, it wasn’t easy to find a groove, but we had great approaches with two strikes and some super at-bats,” South coach Thad Chrismon said.
The Raiders (2-0) had two huge innings ó a five-run second and a six-run fifth. The big blow was Alex Ingold’s grand slam in the second.
Preston Penninger, Dylan Walker and Blake Houston combined to do the job on the mound and kept Chrismon undefeated as a head coach. The South trio combined to strike out 10 while allowing four hits and two walks.
The quick-working Penninger, South’s regular catcher last season as a freshman, made his varsity pitching debut. He struck out the side in the first and allowed one earned run in four innings of work.
“I was hoping to pitch good, and it worked out,” Penninger said. “My teammates gave me a little room to work with.”
Walker faced only seven hitters in two strong frames before Houston pitched a scoreless seventh with the aid of a spectacular, game-ending catch by Jacob Jester, who robbed Dylan May of a two-run triple on a drive to center.
Maverick Miles’ two-out double and an error put the Raiders ahead 1-0 in the first.
An infield hit by Jacob Dietz, a walk and an error made it 2-0 in the second before a single by Houston loaded the bases and set the table for Ingold’s big swing.
Ingold fouled off pitches in an extended at-bat and worked the count full. With Miles on deck, Ingold was going to get a pitch to hit, and he didn’t miss it. He launched a no-doubt drive to right-center that made it 6-0.
“Their pitcher (Ryan Hartsell) fooled me on a curveball and struck me out my first time up,” Ingold said. “I was thinking backside on the 3-2 pitch, and I got a fastball that was right over the plate. I got a little bit of lift on it.”
The Wonders (1-3) were paced by shortstop John Tuttle, who rapped his second homer of the young season to lead off the second and added a double in the fourth.
South made two infield errors in the fourth to help the Wonders scratch within 6-4, but the Raiders put the game away with their six-run fifth.
“We made boo-boos to help them get back in it, but every time you’re faced with adversity in a baseball game it’s an opportunity,” Chrismon said. “We kept our composure and worked our way into a very big inning.”
South’s big fifth was mostly a product of patience.
Ingold started the frame with a double that was nearly another homer. After Miles was walked intentionally, the next three Raiders walked unintentionally. Dietz, Steve Erwin and Miles produced RBIs as South batted around, and the Wonders weren’t sharp defensively.
The Wonders, who sent aces Tuttle and May to the mound in SPC games over the weekend, got two scoreless frames from Wesley Summerlin to keep things respectable, but they couldn’t mount a comeback.
“Sure, we had to throw some guys who haven’t thrown a lot, but they’ll probably have to fill that role again later this year,” Brown coach Empsy Thompson said. “But regardless of the pitching situation, we still had the opportunity to swing the bats, and we just didn’t do it. South was better than us today.”
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NOTES: Houston, a lefty hitter, throws right-handed when he’s playing center field, but he pitches left-handed ó a unique combination. Chrismon explained Houston’s a good enough athlete to pitch with either arm, but he feels most comfortable catching the ball in the outfield with his left hand. … South opens NPC play against Northwest Cabarrus on Friday.

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