Prep Baseball: North Rowan 12, Chatham Central 2: Cavs win one for Patrick
By Mike London
SPENCER — Jennifer Snider sat quietly in the bleachers for all six innings, clutching a bouquet of 11 flowers near her heart.
Ten yellow roses — one for each of North Rowan’s seniors. One white one, for her son, Patrick, the North pitcher who was lost to cancer last July.
Patrick’s parents — Jennifer and David — were warmly saluted by fans, players and coaches prior to Tuesday’s game.
Then the Cavaliers, who are chasing a YVC championship, went out and battered Chatham Central 12-2 in their final regular-season home game.
“It was emotional for all of us seeing Patrick’s parents back on the field,” said North assistant Jason Sparger, filling in for the first of a two-game suspension being served by head coach Aaron Rimer. “There were no dry eyes, even for the people who didn’t know Patrick. Chatham Central’s coach (Bill Slaughter) said it was one of the most moving things he’s ever seen.”
North senior Matt Laurens, who is becoming more forceful with each game, dominated again. He went 4-for-4 at the plate, all line-drive singles to center field, drove in three and pitched a complete game with eight strikeouts.
“I didn’t tell anyone, but I chose to dedicate this game to Patrick and to his family,” Laurens said. “I just went out there to play for him, and everything worked out.”
Lots of North seniors got a chance to contribute, even some that don’t play regularly. Jamone Kelly stole three bases as a courtesy runner, while Colton Fries made a nice catch in right field.
“We’ve had a great season, and we’ve based a lot of it on playing for Patrick Snider,” said senior shortstop Dakota Brown. “It was a real boost seeing his parents here tonight. It meant a lot to us.”
Laurens had the game’s key at-bat in the bottom of the first. North had loaded the bases with none out on two walks and a shaky defensive play, but Chatham Central’s freshman pitcher Zack Burke, who has a nice curveball, struck out Matt Mauldin and Alex Morgan back-to-back.
That left it up to Laurens, and he came through with a two-run bullet that nearly decapitated Burke.
“Matt’s on fire right now,” Sparger said. “He was a one-man show tonight.”
Laurens (4-1), a southpaw headed to Catawba, was in charge on the mound. All three Chatham Central hits were infield singles.
“He got ahead of their hitters and stayed ahead,” Sparger said. “All year, we’ve been walking too many guys, but Matt got a lot of quick outs and kept his pitch-count low.”
Laurens threatened to shut out the Bears (5-15, 5-10), who finally scored in the fourth on two walks, a single and a wild pitch on a strikeout.
Chatham got its other run in the sixth. Another batter reached on a wild pitch on a strikeout and eventually scored on a sacrifice fly. That sac fly was crushed to center field. It was the only ball the Bears squared up all night against Laurens, but it was run down by North senior Mason Jennings.
North put five straight hits together for a three-run fifth that broke it open.
Jake Smith hustled a popup down the left-field line into a double, and senior Hunter Feezor’s screaming RBI double into the left-field corner scored him. Jennings singled sharply for another run, and Brown, another senior, followed with a booming triple.
“We did what we’ve done all year,” Slaughter said. “We gave North extra outs, and they took advantage. There were three times where our pitcher should’ve been out of the inning, but they’re still hitting.”
North (17-5, 13-2) finished off the Bears in the sixth with three more runs. Smith’s single through the right side scored Kelly to end it.
The Cavaliers play at contender North Moore on Friday. If they win, they tie South Stanly for first. If they lose, they settle for third.