• 64°

NPC Baseball Tournament: East Rowan 7, South Rowan 1

By Mike London
mlondon@salisburypost.com
STATESVILLE — Maybe this pitching thing isn’t as complicated as it’s made out to be.
East Rowan coach Brian Hightower handed the ball to shortstop Justin Morris on Wednesday and Morris promptly cruised to a 7-1 win against South Rowan in a North Piedmont Conference Tournament semifinal.
Morris has a pitching background, but the senior infielder hasn’t been needed to hurl at the varsity level very often.
“Six innings all season before today,” Morris said with a smile. “What I’ve been taught is not to walk ’em. I tried to keep it low and I threw a lot of strikes.”
Morris walked none and fanned one and breezed through several innings with a handful of pitches. South’s 2-through-5 hitters took their hacks but all logged O-fers.
“I guess Morris isn’t what you expect to see from us as far as a No. 2 starter, but he’s got a fastball, changeup and curveball,” Hightower said. “He did a really nice job out there. When he missed, he missed low where he wasn’t going to get hurt, and we work hard enough on our defense that we expect to catch the ball. I really liked the way we played today.”
East pitchers have walked eight or more men in a game on five different occasions while handing out free passes to 116 batters (101 walks, 15 HBPs).
That’s almost five freebies per game, and that’s why Hightower conducted the Morris experiment. Don’t be shocked if Hightower asks Morris to start a playoff game, with lefty relief whiz Will Johnson ready to finish.
Fourth-seeded South (11-12) didn’t play well defensively. Starting pitcher Preston Penninger deserved better, but he didn’t have a chance after the top-seeded Mustangs (17-7) scored four unearned runs in the first.
“Preston pitched a heck of a game,” Chrismon said. “He got groundballs and flyballs and stuck in there and kept his composure in tough situations. But you can’t make errors like we did and beat anyone in the postseason.”
East had a couple of timely hits in the first inning. Andy Austin delivered a run-scoring double to the left-center alley, while Ashton Fleming came through with a two-out RBI single.
“South made some errors, but someone still has to make them pay,” Hightower said. “Guys made them pay.”
Morris was in only one tight spot. South had the bases loaded with two out in the second, but Morris got leadoff man Dylan Goodman to slap a groundball to third baseman Chase Hathcock.
East iced it with a three-run fourth. Hathcock’s infield hit and a bunt single by Wesley LeRoy got the inning rolling. Will Sapp, who had three hits, hammered an RBI double, and Luke Thomas singled in a run.
Morris mowed down the Raiders 1-2-3 in the third and fourth. Morris’ first pitch always looked tempting, but it usually produced ordinary contact and an another out.
“There were times when they were swinging at my pitch and getting themselves out,” Morris said.
Morris finally lost his shutout bid in the fifth when Parker Hubbard stroked a single up the middle to score Dillon Parker. South hit two balls hard that inning, but LeRoy, playing right field, tracked down liners by Tyler Kowalczyk and Eric Tyler.
LeRoy has been back in the lineup the past few games after missing several weeks with a back injury. His glove and arm are always assets, and he produced three singles out of the No. 9 spot in the batting order.
“Everyone played a really good game, and Morris, good Lord, he was just amazing,” LeRoy said. “It felt like everything came together for us today.”
n
NOTES: East plays second-seeded host West Iredell for the tournament title on Friday at 7 p.m. … South will be the NPC’s No. 4 seed, and that means a trip to play the Mega-7 champ on May 13. … East has won 10 straight against the Raiders. … South’s last win in the series came in 2007 when Ivan Corriher produced five RBIs in a 10-7 South victory.

Comments

Comments closed.

Local

Catawba holds baccalaureate services for Class of 2021

News

$9M settlement for two men wrongfully sent to death row

Nation/World

China lands spacecraft on Mars in latest advance for its space program

Business

Gas crunch hits Washington; Colonial Pipeline paid nearly $5 million in Bitcoin ransome

Coronavirus

State mostly returns to normal operations after 15 months of lockdowns, restrictions

Crime

Blotter: Man accused of stealing car, crashing it

Crime

Man faces new charge of attempted murder for father’s shooting

BREAKING NEWS

Gov. Cooper lifts indoor mask mandate for most situations, gathering limits

Crime

Barnes gets new punishment of two life sentences in Tutterow couple’s 1992 murder

High School

High school football: State’s top honor goes to Jalon Walker

Local

Scout’s Honor: With dedication of flag retirement box, Salem Fleming earns Eagle Scout rank

College

North Carolina king, queen of NCAA lacrosse tourneys

Education

Kannapolis seniors walk elementary schools

Local

Local real estate company employees come out in force to build Habitat house

Local

Quotes of the week

Coronavirus

Auditors find oversight lacking for $3 billion of state’s pandemic aid

Nation/World

When will gas situation return to normal?

Local

Rowan native Shuping posthumously receives Concord Police Department’s Medal of Valor, Purple Heart

News

GOP measure on penalties for rioting draws fire

News

Black high school softball player told to cut hair

Coronavirus

State shows 303 COVID-19 deaths in Rowan

Coronavirus

CDC: Fully vaccinated people can largely ditch masks indoors

Crime

One arrested, another hospitalized in Castor Road stabbing

China Grove

China Grove Roller Mill open for tours Saturday