Prep Baseball: Salisbury 10, West Rowan 4
By David Shaw
There are no K’s in Philip Tonseth’s name, but there were 13 of them in the scorebook Wednesday night.
The Salisbury lefthander fed visiting West Rowan a steady diet of Special K in a 10-4 non-conference victory.
“He may not be a strikeout pitcher,” said West infielder Chandler Jones. “But he was tonight. He had a great offspeed pitch, good movement and he knew when to throw it.”
Tonseth, by his own account, had only ordinary stuff. But he steered the Hornets (3-3) through some early-inning rough spots in a complete-game effort — scattering seven singles, walking one and easily surpassing his previous career-high for strikeouts in a game.
“I think the most I ever had was four or five,” the West Point-bound senior explained. “I’ve never been this kind of pitcher.”
He was quick to credit SHS pitching coach Justin Morgan for tinkering with his mechanics and catcher Clint Veal for “being a wall back there.”
West coach Chad Parker hinted that Tonseth deserved the Alex Trebek Award — he kept the Falcons guessing.
“We were definitely off-balance,” Parker said after West dipped to 1-11. “He dictated out there, made us swing at his pitches. In the inning we scored our runs we actually hit our pitches. It’s a game of adjustments. He made his a little better than we made ours.”
Salisbury jumped to a 4-1 lead in the second inning against West southpaw Justin Evans, who was unlucky at best. He yielded a leadoff single to Ian Swaim and a wind-blown double by Tonseth. After hitting a batter, Evan allowed runs on an infield error, a wild pitch and a passed ball.
The Falcons rallied for three runs and tied the score in the top of the third. They collected four of their seven hits, including a run-scoring single by Bryce Burns and a two-run gapper to right-center by Jones.
“Philip really didn’t have his best stuff,” said winning coach Scott Maddox. “That was the thing. Usually his breaking ball is much sharper, but he was missing with that a lot.”
Tonseth uncorked five wild pitches but settled down and allowed only one hit over the final the four innings. He fanned at least two batters in every inning but the fourth, when he used two groundouts and a popup to retire West in order.
“(Tonseth) still threw a lot of strikes,” said Veal, a sturdy sophomore. “His curveball was there when he needed it. Some of them were hanging but some of them were unhittable.”
Salisbury chased Evans and took the lead for keeps in the bottom of the third. Kyle Wolfe doubled, Swaim coaxed a walk and both runners scored when Scott Van der Poel roped a two-run double to left-center field.
Righthander Chase Laing relieved for West and held the Hornets scoreless until the bottom of the sixth. Salisbury tacked on four unearned runs — the last three when Veal cracked his first varsity home run on an outside fastball.
“I just went with it,” Veal said after slugging Salisbury’s first homer of the season. “I think the wind got it. But he left it out there and I went and got it.”
Tonseth finished the Falcons off with an impressive seventh inning. He got Taylor Garcynzski to ground out and whisked a third strike past Burns. Then after Jones legged out an infield hit, he fanned pinch-hitter Louis Kraft on a slow-bending curve.
“He fooled us all night,” said Jones. “His curve fell out of the strike zone in a hurry. It was almost like rolling a ball off the end of a table. It was right there and then the bottom fell out.”
NOTES: Tonseth (2-1) threw first-pitch strikes to 20 of the 31 batters he faced. … Salisbury opens its CCC season next Tuesday at West Davidson. The Falcons meet St. Stephens Friday in Hickory.