Prep Baseball: North Rowan 15, Albemarle 6

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 15, 2011

By Ryan Bisesi
SPENCER — Life throws some hardballs at you from time to time.
But the North Rowan baseball team, especially Wesley Barker, stand their ground.
North took another wild one Friday night in a 15-6 victory against 1A Yadkin Valley Conference foe Abermarle. The Cavs’ offense provided another grand showing, earning a 9-0 lead before the third inning had completed.
For Barker, it’s no pain, no gain. The Cavs No. 2 hitter was hit by a pitch in his first two plate appearances on Friday to bring his HBP total to 10 in 16 games this year. He was hit three times last week in a win against South Davidson.
“I’m not getting out of the way of any ball coming at me,” said Barker, who later drove in a run on a double. “I know I get to go to first. It doesn’t hurt for long.”
Of course, the ball got hit pretty hard too. The wind swayed the trees backward beyond the outfield, equaling four home runs, including a controversial inside-the park shot from Mason Jennings in the fourth. Jake Smith added his first blast of the year in the sixth.
North moved to 12-4 overall and 10-2 in the conference, staying hot on first-place South Stanly and No. 2 North Moore.
Lefty starter Josh Price threw 85 pitches in 52/3 innings for North for his third win of the season. Smith got by the first three innings relatively unscathed before running into trouble in the fourth and fifth.
“Josh did a great job of getting ahead of batters all night,” North coach Aaron Rimer said. “He lives off location and keeping the ball down.”
North had its first four batters reach base with Dakota Brown and Alex Morgan earning singles and Barker and cleanup hitter Matt Mauldin coaxing walks. Albermarle starter Nat Dunlap gave up eight hits, hit four batters and was pulled after 2 2/3 innings.
Smith was pulled in the sixth after giving up two-run bombs to Brian Robichaud and Brian Blanton. Blanton’s blast on a 1-2 count cut Abermarle’s deficit to 11-6.
“I just left the ball up,” Smith said. “I wasn’t throwing all the way down.”
Markez Brown singled and Tyler Martin was hit by a pitch to keep the rally going. Brown came in and earned the loud final out of the inning when Hunter Williams lasered one to left field that Mauldin snagged on one knee.
“I liked the defense I saw tonight,” Price said. “I’m not a 90-MPH fastball guy, so I need my defense to play like they did tonight.”
Jennings’ first homer of the year came on a long fly ball to left field that seemed to have Martin, the left fielder, beat. Martin caught up to it and appeared to make a tremendous over-the-shoulder catch while falling down in front of the fence. The home plate umpire immediately called it no catch and Jennings never stopped hustling around the bases while Martin lay dumbfounded on the ground.
“I don’t know if he caught it or not,” Rimer said. “That’s a tough play to see. I think if [Martin] gets up, it might be a double, but Mason was running the whole way. [Martin] didn’t seem too hurt when he came in arguing the play.”
Albermarle shortstop and UNC Wilmington signee Corey Dick was held without a hit, but was walked three times, once intentionally.
Brown, the leadoff man, was all over the bases with three singles and three runs scored.