Prep baseball: East Rowan 8, South Rowan 4
By Mike London
LANDIS ó East Rowan beat South Rowan 8-4 on Thursday in a bumpy ride of a baseball game.
There were 12 walks and eight wild pitches, and neither team put on a baserunning clinic. South lefty Dylan Walker picked off everyone but East coaches Brian Hightower and Brian Hatley.
“It still feels like opening day every time we go out there,” Hightower said with a sigh. “I’ve got no idea what to expect. It never goes according to the blueprint.”
While the Mustangs (9-2, 7-1) didn’t resemble the well-oiled machine that won 29 times last season, East did climb into second place in the NPC.
East also got good news as far as its battery. Catcher Austin Shull committed to Belmont Abbey and Preston Troutman showed electric stuff in his first mound start, striking out nine Raiders in 42/3 innings. Corbin Shive made his long-awaited mound debut in the sixth and earned a save.
Shive, a Charlotte signee, has been working his way back from offseason shoulder surgery and was limited to first-base duties prior to Thursday night.
“I always like pitching,” Shive said. “On the mound, you’re somewhat more in control of the game. It was good to get that mental part of things back, and physically I felt good.”
East got started quickly when leadoff man Zach Smith greeted Walker with a homer on an 0-2 pitch. It was the second straight road game Smith’s gotten the Mustangs jump-started with a homer.
“It meant early momentum,” Smith said. “It’s always good to score first, and I knew Preston would be throwing good for us.”
Smith’s homer was East’s only earned run against Walker and reliever Alex Ingold.
“Dylan and Alex fought on the mound to give us a chance, but we’re shooting ourselves in the foot so much we’re starting to run out of toes,” South coach Thad Chrismon said.
Most of the gunfire came in East’s fourth, when the Mustangs patched together a five-run inning with the aid of three walks, two errors and a flurry of wild pitches. East’s only hit in the inning was Smith’s lost-in-the-lights double to left. Robbie Ijames’ sac fly to deep right was the only ball that was stung in the inning, but it was 6-0.
“It’s not like we hit the ball hard,” Hightower said. “We were fortunate South threw a lot of balls and made errors.”
Singles by Noah Holmes and Shive and a throwing error made it 7-0 in the fifth. Troutman had been dominant to that point, but the fun was just starting.
Troutman (1-0) tired in the fifth, walked three, wild-pitched a run home and allowed a run-scoring single to Maverick Miles. Thomas Allen relieved Troutman, but the Raiders made it 7-4 on an error and the second of red-hot Steve Erwin’s three base hits. Erwin is 6-for-7 this week.
South may have scored more, but the inning ended on a baserunning mistake when Ingold rounded second too far. Jordan Corriher (2-for-2, two walks) was at third and had to break for home.
South had two on with two out in the sixth and sent the tying run to the plate when Hightower summoned Shive to the mound. He ended that inning with a strikeout.
Shive, not noted for his wheels, got a workout in the top of the seventh when he crushed a ball to the 400-foot sign in right-center.
The ball was bobbled at the fence, and Shive, who was credited with a triple, circled the bases with Hightower frantically waving him around.
“Halfway between first and second, I was pretty startled when I saw he was telling me to keep coming,” Shive said. “When I got close to third, and he was still waving, I was just shocked. I was so tired after that, I could hardly throw that last inning.”
Corriher and Erwin got hits in the seventh, but Shive managed to shut the door, handing South another tough loss.
“We made quite a few fundamentally sound, great baseball plays,” Chrismon said. “We sprinkled in way too many mistakes with the good things, but we gave one of the best teams in our league a heck of a game.”
South (5-7, 2-7) hasn’t been blown out by anyone, but it’s digging a big hole as far as making the playoffs.
“We’ve got a good team, and we’re close to being very good,” Miles said. “We’ve just got to stick with it.”