Prep baseball: Mooresville 7, East Rowan 0
By Mike London
MOORESVILLE ó East Rowan’s baseball team had never heard of Mooresville southpaw Keith Little.
No disrespect intended. Little is a lanky sophomore who isn’t a household name, and the Mustangs have gotten used to seeing either Aubrey Meadows (now at Charlotte) or Aaron Meadows on the mound whenever they face Mooresville.
To the Mustangs, Little was simply “the left-hander,” but they’ll recognize No. 14 should their paths cross again. He pitched a one-hitter, struck out six and beat East 7-0 on Tuesday night.
“I’m thrilled,” said Little, who improved to 3-0.
“I just kept my head in it. I’m proud of myself to beat such a great team.”
East coach Brian Hightower watched his offense produce only a clean single up the middle by Ben DeCelle with one out in the sixth. Noah Holmes hammered a couple of balls to left ó one was caught, one was dropped ó but the Mustangs made little noise.
“When we found out the left-hander was pitching and not Aaron I kinda felt relieved because Aaron can be tough,” said losing pitcher Corbin Shive. “But about the fourth inning, I was sorta wishing they’d try Aaron.”
Mooresville (15-4, 11-3 NPC) turned the tables on East (15-4, 10-3) and took over second place. East had handled the Blue Devils 10-1 last week at Staton Field.
“Coach Hightower said he wanted to get a copy of the speech I gave after that one,” Mooresville coach Jeff Burchett said with a grin. “That speech was nothing but a little pow-wow, a little gut-check about coming to the ballfield to compete because we didn’t compete very well in the game over there.”
Mooresville competed in this one and got the first break. East’s Casey Little appeared to be advancing routinely to third base on a wild pitch in the top of the third, but the ball caromed sharply back to catcher Aaron Meadows. He threw Little out.
The Blue Devils took a 1-0 lead against Shive on Nathan Abraham’s RBI single in the third.
The wheels came off for East in the Mooresville fourth. Ian Walters came to the plate with two on and none out. A bunt seemed likely. Instead, Walters smoked a gapper for a 2-0 lead. That hit ended Shive’s night on the mound. He moved to first base, and Kent Basinger (6-0) emerged from the bullpen.
Basinger nearly pitched out of a bases-loaded, no-outs jam, an effort that would have kept East in the game, but with two away, shortstop Preston Troutman fielded a sharply hit grounder off Abraham’s bat and threw the ball away. Two runs scored. Two more scored when Meadows delivered a bloop single to center. With Little staked to a 6-0 lead, the party was over.
“Their guy pitched a great game,” Shive said. “He got ahead of us. We couldn’t get a clutch hit, couldn’t get a leadoff hit, couldn’t get any hits. You can’t win with one hit.”
Burchett followed a hunch putting Little on the mound.
“He was a card we hadn’t played yet,” Burchett said. “East has got a lot of tough lefty sticks, and the lefty looked like a good matchup. He cruised out there, and we made plays. I can’t say enough about how we answered back for last week.”
Hightower took the loss calmly.
“Everything went perfect for us last year, and this year it’s not going perfect, but we’re still good, we could still find it and we could make a run,” he said. “We didn’t lose tonight because of any lack of effort or lack of concentration. Give them credit. Mooresville pitched great and played great. Our league is tough, and some nights the other guys are just better than you are.”
The best guy was Little. He even amazed his teammates.
“I’m not gonna lie,” Meadows said. “For a sophomore to pitch a game like that in that situation ó there’s no way you can expect that.”
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