Prep Baseball: South Rowan 11, North Iredell 1
By Paul Hershey
LANDIS — After a frustrating week in which it suffered three losses by a total of five runs, South Rowan came into Monday’s first-round game of the NPC tournament excited about the opportunity to wipe the slate clean.
The Raiders’ 11-1 five-inning rout of North Iredell was the perfect way to begin that fresh start.
South pounded out 14 hits, got a solid outing on the mound by Dylan Parker and did all the little things right to easily advance to a semifinal meeting against regular-season champion East Rowan.
“We let last week go,” South coach Thad Chrismon said. “We try to break the season into three seasons. We’re in the postseason now so we learned all we can from our games, including last week, and we’ve moved on. We’re playing for a conference tournament championship and that’s the approach we took.
“It was a tight game and then we banged a couple hits together, ran the bases real well and just put a little pressure on, which is what we try and do.”
It was just 4-1 when South (11-11) sent its fans home happy and early, by putting up seven runs on eight hits in the bottom of the fifth.
No. 9 hitter Parker Hubbard led the way offensively, delivering run-scoring hits in each of his three at-bats. He finished 3 for 3 with four RBIs. Preston Penninger also had three hits, while Dylan Goodman, Eric Tyler and Matt Miller each contributed two.
“We just hit the ball,” Hubbard said simply. “We attacked the ball well.”
Parker allowed just five hits, struck out five and walked only one. After surrenduring a run in the first, he cruised through the next three innings and then got help from his defense in the fifth when Tyler threw out two runners on the bases.
“Dylan did great on the mound,” Chrismon said. “I think his curveball was probably the best it’s been all year and that helped out. He’s been working really hard and I felt like tonight he looked a lot more confident.”
Before putting the big number on the board in the fifth, South chipped away at North starter Clint Jordan with solid fundamental execution.
A sacrifice bunt by Cory Deason in the second led to a North error and opened the door to a three-run inning as Penninger and Hubbard followed with RBI singles and Goodman added a sacrifice fly.
In the fourth, Deason reached on an error, Penninger singled and Parker moved them up with a bunt. Deason then scored on an infield single by Hubbard.
“That was key early,” Chrismon said. “We were doing the good situational hitting. Later on we were still doing the little things and then we got the big hit.”
They got plenty of them, actually, in the fifth.
Tyler and Jacob Dietz got it started with solid singles and Miller beat out a chopper to short to load the bases. Deason’s sacrifice fly scored one and Penninger’s popup dropped down the left-field line to reload the bases. Two batters later, Hubbard plated two with a single to left to make it 7-1.
“Parker’s been working really hard in practice to get to where he’s feeling in a groove with the bat and he had some big hits tonight and drove in some runs and that was good for us,” Chrismon said. “We need to be as tough one through nine as we can if we’re going to be successful in the postseason.”
The Raiders then got a break when a grounder by Goodman took a bad hop off the edge of the grass and got past shortstop Zack Davis, allowing two more runs to score. An RBI single by Tyler Kowalczyk knocked Jordan out of the game and Tyler hit a double to rightcenter just out of the reach of leaping right fielder Colby Gregory to bring in the 11th and final run.
“You’ve got make sure when you get in the postseason that you get the timely hits, Chrismon said. “The first part of the game I thought we weren’t getting that timely hit. Later in the game we were getting it and were able to put a big number on the board.”
The big inning saved Parker – or perhaps a reliever – from more work on the mound, which may come in handy when the Raiders face East on Wednesday, and perhaps beyond.
Both of South’s losses to the Mustangs were tight so certainly the Raiders are looking forward to another chance. The semifinal meeting with be played at West Iredell at 4 p.m.
“It’s been the close the past two times so we’re ready for another shot at them,” Hubbard said.
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