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Prep baseball: East Rowan 16, Parkland 3

By David Shaw
sports@salisburypost.com
GRANITE QUARRY ó East Rowan spared everyone another breathtaking finish Tuesday night.
The host Mustangs scored nine runs in the second inning, posted seven more in the fourth and coasted to an abbreviated 16-3 second-round playoff victory over Parkland.
“The last game we had runners on and couldn’t get them home,” infielder Noah Holmes said after East (22-4) put Friday’s stressful first-round win in the rearview mirror. “This game we came up with the clutch hits. After the second inning we weren’t feeling that pressure to come from behind. We just went out and finished the deal.”
And oh, what a second inning it was.
East sent 13 batters to the plate, collected six base hits and capitalized on two Parkland errors ó knocking losing pitcher Tanner Beck out of the box after just 11/3 innings.
“He just lost his dad on Thursday, so we weren’t sure how he was gonna handle it,” Parkland coach Andy Harper said. “He had a good game Friday ó hit a home run against Ragsdale. But pitching has been a weak spot for us, and he just lost it in the second inning.”
Beck, a junior right-hander, walked three men in the second and yielded Matt Miller’s sacrifice fly, Ethan Fisher’s run-scoring bunt single and a bases-loaded walk to winning pitcher Preston Troutman. East outfielder David Ijames singled against two different pitchers and scored twice in the inning.
“We did everything right tonight,” said Ijames, who went 3-for-3 with two RBIs. “The bunts, the moving runners along, getting hits with runners in scoring position. We didn’t do anything wrong.”
East’s nine-run inning wiped out a 1-0 deficit provided by Parkland catcher Kelly Surface, who slammed a 1-1 pitch from Troutman over the fence in right-center for a second-inning home run.
“The best thing is that we answered,” East coach Brian Hightower said. “They had us 1-0, and we didn’t want to get into a situation like we did in the first round. When we put up a nine-spot, that just made us relax and have a little more fun.”
Troutman surrendered three hits and struck out five in four innings, improving to 4-1. Reliever Kent Basinger allowed a run-scoring double to Parkland’s Andre McKoy in the fifth and final inning.
“I was trying to throw fastballs for strikes,” Troutman said. “And keep it away from them, for the most part. My approach was keep it in the strike zone and let them hit it if they’re going to hit it. This defense always plays well behind me.”
East took another round of batting practice against three Parkland relievers in the last of the fourth. Ijames and Holmes delivered runs-scoring doubles, Ben DeCelle had an RBI triple ó he was nailed at the plate trying for an inside-the-park homer ó and sophomore Luke Thomas, a backup catcher, clobbered a three-run, pinch-hit double that gave the Mustangs a 15-2 lead.
“Luke can hit like crazy,” Holmes gushed.
“People sometimes overthink hitting,” added Ijames, now 6-for-8 with six RBIs in two postseason games. “It’s not hard to hit a baseball. See it and hit it. Tonight we just did what we practice ó driving the ball both ways, hitting the alleys. When you do stuff in practice and it carries over to the games, this is what happens.”
Hightower is cool with that.
“I feel like I can count on 17 guys,” he said. “My job is to mix and match and find the best combinations. Right now it’s working.”
n
NOTES: Parkland (15-11) had won seven of its last eight games. … East will play at Piedmont Triad top seed Southwest Guilford (15-10) in a third-round matchup Friday.

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