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Prep Baseball: West Rowan 9, East Rowan 1

By Mike London
mlondon@salisburypost.com
GRANITE QUARRY ó Oh, so that’s the West Rowan everyone was talking about in February.
Talented West put it all together and mashed NPC rival East Rowan 9-1 at Staton Field on Friday to split the season series.
The Falcons probably would have chased the Yankees out of their new stadium. They were that good. Hernan Bautista and Brantley Horton muscled homers. Garrett White and an electric Randy Shepherd did the job on the mound.
“West is dadgum good,” East coach Brian Hightower said. “This is what they’re capable of doing. As for us, we’ve got to play better baseball.”
NPC baseball is as predictable as the stock market and spring weather. West (7-7, 4-4) had lost to last-place North Iredell 24 hours earlier.
“That was a bad loss at North Iredell, to say the least,” said Horton, a senior outfielder. “But it was great for us to come back tonight and play the way we’re capable of playing. You can’t say enough about Garrett White. This was probably by far the biggest start of his life and he did a great job.”
White was crafty and kept East hitters in the park the first three innings. Shepherd blew them away the last four frames, except for a first-pitch, solo homer by pinch-hitter Casey Little in the fifth.
“Garrett did everything we asked him to do and a little more, and when Randy wants the ball like he did tonight ó better give it to him,” said Bautista, West’s experienced catcher. “Randy had a good curveball, but his fastball was moving so perfect he almost didn’t need it.”
Bautista’s homer leading off the second was huge. East starter Preston Troutman was ahead in the count, but Bautista took a breaking ball down the line and just over the left-field fence.
“The shortest home run of my life, but also the best,” Bautista said. “I stayed back, stayed short, and I guess a miracle happened. That swing set the tone for everything.”
Philip Miclat created a run in the third to make it 2-0. He walked, stole second, then came home when the throw got away as he pilfered third.
East (13-3, 8-2) rarely breaks down defensively, but it had an ugly fourth with a dropped popup and an overthrow into the dugout. Zack Simpson and Miclat knocked in runs as the Falcons pushed their lead to 5-0.
White held East to three singles the first three innings, but coach David Wright lifted him after he walked the first two batters in the fourth. Shepherd entered and struck out red-hot Corbin Shive. After a swinging-bunt single by Noah Holmes filled the bases, Shepherd fell behind Luke Thomas 3-0. The Appalachian State-bound right-hander came back to fan Thomas on a 3-2 fastball. Then he struck out Ethan Fisher on a curveball to strand three. That sequence of pitches by Shepherd was the game.
“We’d been in a similar situation at West Forsyth and left Garrett out there a little bit too long,” West coach David Wright said. “I’d made up my mind I wouldn’t do that tonight. Randy was ready. D.J. Webb was coming after Randy. Zack (Simpson) was coming after D.J. This was a big night. We had to have this one, and I’m not talking about for the conference race ó I’m talking about for our season.”
Horton’s two-run blast in the fifth broke it open. Little’s pinch-hit homer ó a drive to left-center ó briefly interrupted West’s onslaught ó but Brett Huffman’s double keyed two more West runs in the seventh.
“It’s a testament to our guys that after a real rough night Thursday they lined up and went out and beat a very good baseball team,” Wright said.

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