Prep baseball: North Rowan 4, Salisbury 1
By David Shaw
North Rowan played the role of spoiler Friday ó and wiped the smile off Salisbury’s face.
The visiting Cavs received a lights-out pitching performance from Patrick Snider and scored four unearned runs in a 4-1 CCC victory, handing SHS a near-fatal loss.”It means the only way we can make the playoffs is to win the conference tournament,” said Hornets coach Scott Maddox. “We’re battling North Rowan for sixth place.”
For a couple of sixth-place teams, this was quite a show. Snider, a sophomore right-hander with the poise of a veteran, tossed a complete-game three-hitter and faced only 26 batters. He struck out six and retired nine of the last 10 hitters he faced.
“I felt pretty good,” said Snider, who has won three straight decisions after starting 0-4. “It was just fastballs and curves, and nobody made any errors. That about sums it up.”
Snider ran into trouble early, yielding a leadoff base hit to Salisbury’s Russell Michalec in the bottom of the first inning and a run-scoring single to No. 2 hitter Kyle Wolfe. But from then on, he was in control.
“We scored in the first and then didn’t score again,” said Michalec, one of six SHS players honored on senior night. “That was surprising. Sometimes when we get a lead, instead of getting comfortable, we tense up. It’s like we’re afraid to lose the lead.”
That’s precisely what happened in the top of the second. Facing senior right-hander Forest Buchanan, North’s Kyle Munday punched a leadoff double into the right-center gap. Snider scratched out an infield hit, putting runners on the corners with none out.
“Sometimes it gets a little frustrating, like beating your head against a wall,” Maddox said. “We talk about damage control and limited baserunner movement, and if you make a mistake, don’t compound it by making another one. But when you play a lot of freshmen and sophomores, it’s gonna happen.”
It happened after Buchanan fired a dirt-covered, third strike past North’s Matt Mauldin for what should have been the third out. Instead, the ball pinballed away from catcher Jordan Fuller, and his throw toward first base deflected off the runner and into foul territory, allowing the tying run to cross. One wild pitch later ó the second of five thrown by Buchanan ó North (4-15, 4-9 CCC) had a 2-1 lead.
“I think we just got in (Buchanan’s) head and he wasn’t focussing on what he had to do,” Munday said. “He was trying to throw the ball as hard as he could, trying to get strikes and outs. He should have taken his time, taken a breather.”
Other than the wild pitches and a couple hit batsmen, Buchanan pitched well. He yielded two more unearned runs in the top of the seventh and allowed five hits, fanned six, walked two and was aided by double plays in the first and third innings. And Michalec made a Ringling Bros. catch in center field to rob Mauldin of an extra-base hit with two runners aboard in the fourth.
“Forest did his job,” Michalec said. “He got kids to pop up. As a team we played hard enough to win, but not harder than North.”
Winning coach Rob Linder was pleased to beat Salisbury and pull even in the standings with one game remaining.
“Now if we beat Lexington on Tuesday, who knows?” he said with a shrug. “But this was a good one to win.”
He can thank Snider, who fine-tuned his pitching and made enough on-the-fly adjustments to baffle the Hornets.
“We just couldn’t hit him,” Maddox said.
NOTES: North did not have an RBI in the game, so Munday remains the team leader with 11. … Salisbury closes its league season at Providence Grove on Tuesday.