Prep Baseball: East Rowan 4, West Rowan 2
By Mike London
MOUNT ULLA ó East Rowan’s David Ijames started the excitement with a solo homer and finished it with a tumbling catch in right field with the bases loaded to end the game.
Behind stout pitching by Kent Basinger the Mustangs won 4-2 to stay undefeated and kept the Falcons (0-5, 0-2) winless.
“Huge win for us because West is very good, and there’s no doubt about that,” East coach Brian Hightower said.
West coach David Wright isn’t writing Frustration, Gloom, Hard-luck and Misery on his lineup card as rumored ó it’s still Miclat, Crucitti, Bautista, Untz ó but it’s been a tough ride so far.
The Falcons, didn’t make an error, hit two balls into the trees and made crisp contact all night but dropped their fifth tight game.
“We got good pitching (from Zack Simpson and D.J. Webb), fielded great and battled to the end,” Wright said. “Why we haven’t scored more is a mystery, but we’ve just got to keep plugging. We’ve lined up against five very good baseball teams, four of them on the road, and we’ve come out on the short end.
“We’re the butt of every joke right now, but when we do find it ó and we’re real close to finding it ó some teams are going to be on the other end of it.”
With ace Corbin Shive limited to playing first base, Hightower is counting on on Basinger, Cody Laws and Alex Litaker to throw strikes so the Mustangs’ sharp defense can go to work.
Basinger did just that. He struck out only one of the 22 batters he faced, but East’s defense was spectacular. Noah Holmes made a diving stop at third to rob Dylan Andrews in the fifth, catcher Austin Shull threw out the only Falcon who considered stealing second, and shortstop Robbie Ijames twice made off-balance throws on the move to get runners. Both times, Ijames got lots of help from Shive, who scooped the balls out of the mud around first base.
“I mixed up my pitches and kept ’em guessing,” Basinger said. “But there were a lot of times my defense saved me.”
David Ijames broke the ice when he led off the second with a homer to left-center. It was the first homer in an East uniform for the senior right fielder, who starred at Salisbury the past three years.
“I was ahead in the count 2-0 so I knew he had to come in with a strike, and I held my weight back and hit it good,” Ijames said.
Simpson, a big lefty, had his only rough inning in the third when East scored three. Zach Smith opened the frame with a towering homer to left-center. With one out, Shive, Ethan Fisher, Shull and Casey Little delivered consecutive hits to make it 4-0. Simpson struck out Robbie Ijames on a 3-2 breaking ball and got Ben DeCelle to ground out to keep the Mustangs (3-0, 2-0) from breaking it open.
“We pride ourselves on good pitching, great defense and timely hitting,” Hightower said. “We had two out of three, but we didn’t hit good with runners in scoring position. We should’ve scored seven or eight.”
Basinger finally tired with two out in the sixth, and Jon Crucitti and Hernan Bautista hit back-to-back homers.
Cody Laws closed it out in the seventh, but not without tension. Tyler King, Brett Huffman and Thomas Hester reached to fill the bases, but Ijames charged in and caught Philip Miclat’s fly to right to finish things off.
“I knew I’d hit it too good for it to fall,” Miclat said. “We waited too long to get started, and we still haven’t gotten a break. We’ve been one key hit away from winning ó and not just tonight. I’m talking about every game we’ve played.”