Prep Baseball: Davie 19, East Rowan 14
By David Shaw
GRANITE QUARRY — Call it a lost weekend for East Rowan’s baseball team.
The defending 3A state champion committed six errors and suffered its first NPC loss on Friday night. Yesterday its pitching corps looked more like a pitching corpse in an unsightly 19-14 non-conference loss to visiting Davie County.
“Baseball’s a difficult game,” ER coach Brian Hightower said. “You’re gonna lose games sometimes. We always want to compete and we want to win. But the pain of losing is a whole lot worse than the thrill of winning.”
This one was particularly agonizing because East (9-4 overall) squandered 18 hits and a pair of home runs from left-fielder Nathan Fulbright in defeat. Davie (9-2) jumped on losing pitcher Avery Rogers for six runs in the top of the first inning and never trailed.
“When’s the last time East Rowan gave up 31 runs in two games?” DC coach Mike Herndon questioned. “After losing on Friday, we thought they’d come into the game with a lot of energy. But it was more like a slow-pitch softball game.”
Davie batted around in the first, fifth and seventh innings and finished with 10 extra-base hits. Catcher Jacob Barber and first-baseman Corey Randall homered for the War Eagles.
“We thought it would be a good pitching battle,” Randall said after delivering a two-run double in the first and a decisiive three-run home run in the seventh. “That’s what surprised me. It was a crazy game. We never thought 19 (runs) might not be enough going into the last inning.”
East trailed 9-4 when Davie starting pitcher Wil Beason was relieved by right-hander Brandon Wilson. The Mustangs cashed in — receiving clutch two-out, run-scoring hits from Luke Thomas, Fulbright and Ashton Fleming.
A marathon fifth inning saw Davie plate five runs to go ahead 14-7 before East responded with six of its own against Ryan Foster, DC’s third hurler. The last three runs crossed on Fulbright’s second round-tripper, a blast that cleared everything in left field.
“They’d been throwing curve balls all game, one after another in succession,” the apple-cheeked junior said. “I just had to wait on one and put a good swing on it.”
Smelling a comeback, Hightower brought in lefty Will Johnson to stop the bleeding. Johnson retired Davie in order in the top of the sixth, recording the game’s lone 1-2-3 stanza.
“I like how our guys battled back,” Hightower said. “They never felt like they were out of it.”
The Mustangs still had a shot until Johnson was pelted for five runs — three of them unearned — on five hits in the top of the seventh. Most damaging was Randall’s two-out, three-run homer on a first-pitch fastball. East closed the scoring when Fulbright launched his fourth home run of the season in bottom of the seventh.
“Both teams have to be happy with this offensive outburst,” Herndon said after Davie earned a split in the season series with ER. “But there were lots of other things to be concerned about. I’ve never had a team score six runs in the first inning, five runs in another and five in another and still not be sure if it was enough.”
On this day it was.
“This was very atypical of us,” Fulbright said after going 3-for-3 and with five RBIs and four runs scored. “We’ve just got to take it slow and work our way out of it.”
NOTES: Every batter in Davie’s lineup collected at least one hit, RBI and run scored. ER’s Chase Hathcock was 4-for-4. … East visits Carson and Davie travels to R.J. Reynolds on Tuesday.