Prep baseball: East 10, Mooresville 1
By Mike London
GRANITE QUARRY ó East Rowan senior Corbin Shive thought carefully and cheerfully estimated the distance on his fifth-inning, three-run homer at 520 feet.
No tape measures were available and Shive was only joking about the length of his prodigious blast to right-center, but in a lot of respects East did travel a long way Wednesday when it beat Mooresville 10-1 in a matchup of NPC contenders.
Coach Brian Hightower is rarely satisfied, and he’s told his team all year it’s not as good as its glittering record.
He was convinced East was the worst 12-2 team on the planet after it won the recent Cliff Peeler Easter tournament. He was confident the Mustangs were the worst 14-3 team in the universe after they left the world on base but still managed to nip Carson 3-2 on Tuesday.
Hightower’s feeling better now. East (15-3, 10-2) looked like a legitimate 15-3 team as it pulled away from the Blue Devils (13-4, 9-3), who are a legit 13-4 team.
The biggest news for the Mustangs was Shive’s first start all season. He was operating on a fairly strict pitch count, but he threw three no-hit innings and said he felt fine. Catcher Austin Shull helped Shive escape a first-inning jam when he picked Nathan Abraham off third base. Abraham had walked to start the game and stole second and third.
Shive, coming back from shoulder surgery, has been one of the better pitchers in school history ó 17-4, including a 9-1 mark at Staton Field ó so getting the Charlotte-bound right-hander nearer to full health is a huge development.
Crafty Kent Basinger followed Shive with four solid innings to quietly push his record to 6-0.
The game was much tougher than the final score sounds. East left seven on base the first three innings before it finally broke through on Ben DeCelle’s RBI triple to deep right in the fourth.
“I’m usually up there slapping and trying to use my feet, but I got a changeup right down the middle and had to take advantage of it and drive it,” DeCelle said. “It was a hit we needed. We were leaving way too many on base.”
Ethan Fisher scored from first on DeCelle’s shot. Hightower, sprinting down the line right along with Fisher and waving his arms like an egg-beater, nearly scored himself.
“I was probably crazy to send Fisher right there, but I was desperate for us to get on the scoreboard,” Hightower said. “I’m thinking all the way down the line that he’s gonna be dead and I’ve screwed up, but he got in there with a great slide. He made the kind of slide we preach.”
DeCelle scored on a wild pitch for a 2-0 lead. Mooresville got one run back in the fifth when Jacob Mays got a solid single to right off Basinger for the Blue Devils’ first hit and eventually scored on a sac fly.
“So it’s 2-1 there going to the bottom of the fifth,” Mooresville coach Jeff Burchett said. “We’re hanging right in there even with just one hit. But after that, it was disappointing to see the game go all whop-sided on us.”
Mooresville pitcher Aaron Meadows had done a great job working out of trouble until the fifth. But Noah Holmes’ line single, Casey Little’s bunt single and a clean hit by Fisher filled the bases with one out. Pinch-hitter Luke Thomas got a run home with a sacrifice fly, and East made it 4-1 when a pickoff attempt at first base went awry.
After issuing a pair of walks, Meadows moved to catcher and Wes Dumford took over on the mound.
Zach Smith welcomed Dumford by hammering an 0-2 pitch to the gap in right-center for a bases-clearing double to break the game open. After David Ijames’ infield hit extended the inning, Shive crushed his three-run homer to turn what had been a tense struggle into a peaceful romp.
“The scoreboard still says it was 10-1 so that’s what we’ve got to deal with,” Burchett said. “East played better than we did hit, hit it better than we did, pitched it better, fielded it better.”
East looked good. Just don’t expect Hightower to be satisfied. Not yet.
“We left too many on again, but we beat a good team so I can’t complain too much,” he said. “I was happy with our pitchers. The pitching worked out to the blueprint. We wanted Corbin to throw 35 pitches, but we let him go back for the third and he threw 42. Then Kent came in and did a great job again.”
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