Baseball: North Rowan 12, North Moore 2

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 30, 2011

By David Shaw
SPENCER — Someone must have filled North Rowan’s tank with high-test Tuesday night.
The Cavaliers collected a season-high 17 hits — including 13 in the first three innings — and routed visiting North Moore, 12-2.
“I thought we stepped on the gas pedal early and didn’t come off it,” first-year coach Aaron Rimer said after NR (8-2, 6-2) moved into a tie for second place in the YVC. “That’s something we’ve been struggling with. Tonight we did it against a good team and a good pitcher.”
They did it against a North Moore (8-3, 6-2) squad that boasted a team batting average just over .300 and a pitcher — senior righthander Clint Vaughn — who was previously unbeaten in four starts.
“He had a decent fastball,” said Cavs’ infielder Wesley Barker, “but not much else.”
Barker went 3-for-3 with a pair of doubles and boosted his batting average to .414. Teammate Matt Mauldin was 4-for-4 and knocked in four runs while leadoff batter Dakota Brown (3-for-5, 3 RBIs) ended the game early with sixth-inning single to right-center field.
“We’ve been kind of tense all season,” said Mauldin, owner of a radiant .520 average. “There’s been a lot of expectations from us with the new coach and all. But the last two games we’ve been able to relax and just hit the ball.”
North Rowan capitalized on a couple of first-inning errors and jumped to a 3-0 lead. Alex Morgan, Mauldin and Mason Jennings delivered run-scoring hits.
An inning later it was 6-0, courtesy of Brown’s two-out, RI single and Mauldin’s two-run roller into right. Then after Vaughn retired the first two men he faced in the last of the third, the Cavus rallied for two more runs and an 8-1 lead.
“They’re a good-hitting team,” said losing coach Brandon Reynolds. “We even threw our best pitcher at them. But we just never could get in the game.”
Credit for that goes to winning pitcher Dusty Agner. The tall righthander navigated his way in and out of trouble all night, but never imploded. He did allow eight hits and walked five, but worked out of near-catastrophic jams in the first and fifth innings.
“I studied their information on mayapples and tried to size them up,” the senior said. “I felt good, but I’ve got to get my walks down. It’s just a free base.”
Agner — as well as Vaughn and North Moore reliever Jonathan Henley — struggled with the plate umpire’s floating-casino strike zone. He struck out only two batters — Tyler Wallace looking in the top of the first inning and Ethan Galloway swinging in the fourth.
“I threw several (pitches) across the outside corner that I thought were right there,” Agner said. “Normally you get that call.”
Otherwise Agner did a good job allowing the Mustangs to put the ball in play. He induced eight groundouts in six innings.
“What he did,” said Reynolds, “was work around trouble. Any time we’d get something going and put the ball in play, their defense would make a nice play.”
Rimer offered kind post-game words about his starting pitcher.
“He has a tendency to walk two or three guys in one inning,” the coach said. “But I told him, ‘Keep your walks to five or less and we’ll win this game.’ I had that much confidence in him.”
The Cavs sealed the deal with four runs against Henley in the bottom of the sixth. Mauldin and Hunter Feezor produced run-scoring singles before pinch-hitter Jamone Kelly coaxed a bases-loaded walk to make it 11-2. There were two away when Brown sliced a game-ending gapper.
“We all thought it would be closer than this,” said Barker. “But against Chatham Central we went up 3-0 and were down 6-3 the next inning. We’ve learned that once we get up we can’t take it easy.”

NOTES: The Cavs will visit league-leading South Stanly on Friday night. … Morgan went 2-for-3 and leads the team with 20 hits, 16 RBIs and a glow-in-the-dark .645 average.