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Prep Baseball: Northwest Cabarrus 10, South Rowan 7

By Mike London
mlondon@salisburypost.com
LANDIS ó For a young Northwest Cabarrus baseball team that had experienced nothing but negatives on the road, Justin Seager’s two-run homer in the top of the first provided an emotional lift equal to a grand slam.
Northwest never lost that quick lead and beat South Rowan 10-7 in the NPC opener for both.
“Seager’s home run gave us a chill,” South slugger Maverick Miles said. “Northwest bounced on us from the start.”
Miles walloped a two-run homer, his fifth extra-base knock in three outings, and Preston Penninger stayed warm with a pair of run-scoring hits, but new head coach Thad Chrismon lost for the first time.
Northwest coach Joe Hubbard has only two returning regulars ó Seager, a shortstop, and center fielder Jordan Phillips, who walked four times.
That helps explain why Northwest was flattened 13-0 at Mount Pleasant and 10-0 at Hickory Ridge on its first two road trips.
“We hadn’t even played seven innings on the road yet,” Hubbard said. “We weren’t off the bus when were down 9-0 at Mount Pleasant. Then it’s 5-0, maybe 6-0, after two at Hickory Ridge. That’s what made Seager’s home run so big. It got us started. It relaxed our young guys and it relaxed our pitcher.”
The relaxed pitcher was Graham Lawing, a tall right-hander who missed the 2008 high school season with a broken hand. Lawing fanned six and walked two. He exited after five innings with a 7-4 lead.
“Lawing kept the pressure on us by staying ahead,” Chrismon said. “He made us swing the bats.”
If Seager’s name sounds familiar, it should. His older brother, Kyle, was a great player at Northwest, is now a junior star at UNC and a likely draft pick in June. Justin’s younger brother, Corey, a freshman, is also on the varsity. He played second base and went 2-for-3.
All three brothers throw right-handed, but Justin is the only one who swings righty. He homered to left-center.
“On the home run, I finally got my hands through on a ball,” said Justin, who belted his first varsity homer in a game at South last year. “I’m happy for our younger guys that we got a win in our first conference game.”
South (2-1, 0-1), which may be looking at Lake Norman’s super lefty Nick Lomascolo next Tuesday, needed this game, but it didn’t get it.
South handed the Trojans (2-2, 1-0) two runs with a two-out defensive miscue, and South hurlers J.D. Bare and Dylan Walker issued nine walks. Northwest had baserunners all day long.
“It was an uncharacteristic performance by us because we gave up 11 free passes, counting the two hit batters,” Chrismon said. “It’s just hard to come back from that.”
South tried, even though it trailed 3-0 after the top of the first. Penninger had an RBI single in the first and a run-scoring double in the third.
South trailed 7-2 in the fifth before Miles unloaded a two-run homer that chased SR athletics director Danny Crosby through the parking lot.
Jonathon Wallace’s two-run double keyed Northwest’s three-run sixth that put South in a 10-4 hole.
South battled to the end in the seventh, picked up three runs on singles by Blake Houston, Miles, Walker and Jacob Dietz and got the tying run to the plate before reliever Kevin Hamilton nailed down the final out on a popup that Justin Seager tracked down in shallow left field.
“We’re still trying to find out who we are and establish an identity,” Hubbard said. “This was huge for us.”
Seager’s blast set the tone.
“We missed spots even when we did get it over the plate,” Chrismon said. “Northwest was prepared to play. Seager hit us in the mouth right at the start, and then we kinda buckled.”

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