Prep baseball: South Rowan 9, West Iredell 4
By Mike London
LANDIS ó It was baseball, not golf, but South Rowan’s 9-4 victory against West Iredell was mostly about holes.
South was in a hole at 0-4 in the NPC when right-hander Alex Ingold threw his first pitch to West Iredell leadoff man Garett Fesperman on Monday.
South trailed 4-1 after Brian Romito hit a two-run homer for the Warriors in the fourth inning. Hole No. 2.
South couldn’t afford to lose and maintain realistic hope for a top-six finish and a state playoff berth, and it didn’t stay down. The Raiders sent 12 men to the plate in the home fourth, scored seven times, escaped from a steep hole and put themselves back on the radar.
“We got behind again, but this time we battled back,” South second baseman Jacob Dietz said. “We really needed that first conference win.”
The difference between hole and hope is only one letter, but now the Raiders (4-4, 1-4) have reasons to hope.
“We pulled together there in the fourth and did some really good things,” South coach Thad Chrismon said. “Our baserunning was key. We were aggressive, ran the bases hard, pushed the issue and kind of made some things happen. Then we took advantage of their mistakes.”
Ingold (2-1) pitched well, allowing only two hits in five innings, but he struggled with control early. Walks and a wild pitch staked the Warriors to two quick runs.
Jordan Corriher’s sac fly cut the deficit to 2-1, but the Raiders squandered chances in the first and third innings.
After Romito launched his homer, the deficit swelled and things looked bleak.
“I’ve had a pulled quad since the Salisbury game, and I just couldn’t find it on the mound early,” Ingold said. “Then I threw the 2-0 pitch. It was a high strike, and (Romito) did a great job with it.”
West Iredell (3-4, 1-4) put two runners on base via a walk and an error following the homer and had a chance to bust it open. But Dietz started a timely double play and shortstop Maverick Miles turned it. That was the turning point.
West Iredell starter Will Feimster had a no-hitter through three innings, but Preston Penninger and Steve Erwin singled to open the big fourth. J.D. Bare walked, prompting West Iredell coach Buck Gatton to turn to Romito to get the Warriors out of a bases-loaded jam.
After Jacob Jester lined out to center, Blake Houston slapped a groundball wide of first base. Ryan Massenburg’s throw to the plate was accurate and should have produced the second out, but the ball was dropped and a run scored. That was the big break South needed.
Dietz and Miles then found holes.
Dietz singled past the second baseman to score two runs for a 4-4 tie. Miles drilled a single out of reach of the shortstop. His hit drove in the go-ahead run, and Dietz, with Chrismon waving him all the way, scored from first when the ball eluded the left fielder. A passed ball made it 7-4. A two-out boot made it 8-4. South had control.
“We shot ourselves in the foot a bunch early, but a baseball game usually gives you opportunities to bounce back, and I thought we did that today,” Chrismon said.
South added an insurance run in the fifth. It was keyed by a nice bunt by Dietz.
Bare finished things off on the mound, facing only seven batters in two innings. He had also wrapped up Ingold’s first win against North Rowan.
South goes to West Rowan tonight with a league win in its pocket. West, also in a hole, seeks its first win of any sort.
“We’re hoping this one will carry over,” Ingold said.