Legion baseball: Bautista headed to Surry
By Mike London
MOCKSVILLE ó One swing by Hernan Bautista changed his college destination.
The West Rowan graduate had planned to join the new program at Catawba Valley Community College this fall, but then he hit a ball that refused to come down. That blast led to his commitment to Surry Community College in Dobson instead.
Bautista played for Mocksville’s American Legion team this summer and was facing Winston-Salem, coached by Jamie Lowe, in a game at Reynolds Park. The original plan was for Bautista to get some rest in the non-division game, but Mocksville coach Mike Lovelace sensed opportunity in the air and expanded Bautista’s role.
“I was supposed to DH and not catch at all, but the Winston-Salem coach is also the coach at Surry Community College, so Coach Lovelace put me in to catch three innings just so the Surry coach could see me catching,” Bautista said.
Besides catching, Bautista also happened to hit the longest homer of his life ó over the left-field fence, over a creek, probably over the river and through the woods.
“Coach Lowe asked me after the game if I’d be interested in visiting Surry, and I said I would,” Bautista said. “When I went up there, I really liked the location, the atmosphere, everything about it. It just felt right, and I got to thinking it’s a place that could help me go big in a couple of years. I started filling out papers.”
The Surry Knights have traditionally been one of the state’s stronger junior college programs. A.L. Brown’s Ryan Petty (now Concord’s jayvee coach) and John Graham were All-Americans at Surry. The career of South Rowan lefty Rudy Brown got a boost at Surry. He’s now at UNC Pembroke.
As a junior, Bautista batted .333 for West Rowan with two homers and 11 RBIs.
He followed that with a banner senior season that included a .402 batting average, eight homers and 29 RBIs. He tied for the county lead in homers and also was tied for the RBI lead at the end of the regular season.
Bautista also caught every inning of every game for coach David Wright’s Falcons the last two seasons.
Bautista lives closer to Davie High than Salisbury High, so he plays Legion ball for Mocksville. During the regular season, he batted .341 and led Mocksville with six homers and 35 RBIs while taking charge as the No. 3 hitter.
He played in the North-South All-Star Game held recently at Asheboro’s McCrary Park and belted another homer.
Pitcher Nick Lomascolo and catcher Aaron Meadows opened the all-star contest as an all-Mooresville battery, and Bautista came off the bench.
“They wanted to start Aaron to catch Lomo, which was fine with me,” Bautista said. “When I got into the game I was in the No. 9 hole, and I guess they just throw fastballs to you when you bat ninth. They threw me three in a row. I was ready for one, and I was lucky enough to hit it out.”
That swing was a good one, but it didn’t change his college plans. He’s found a home at Surry.