Prep baseball: Bain to Davidson
Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 4, 2011
By Mike London
KANNAPOLIS — There are no sure things in baseball, but Northwest Cabarrus left-hander Rob Bain is close enough.
He’s delivered 90 percent of the time for the Trojans this season.
Bain, who has signed with Davidson and is a nominee for Greater Charlotte Pitcher of the Year, will carry a 9-1 record into the 3A state playoffs.
“Every time he takes the ball we feel like we’ve got a great chance,” said Northwest coach Joe Hubbard, who has watched Bain end two recent mini-losing streaks by the Trojans. “He throws strikes and he competes. He’s been one of our horses for several years.”
Bain owns two wins against East during the past two seasons. The 3A champion Mustangs lost only twice in 2010, but one of those setbacks was to Bain and the Trojans at Fieldcrest Cannon Stadium.
Bain has also won twice against a good Carson team this year, but while he’s often been a problem for Rowan County, that’s also where his roots are.
He’s descended from the baseball-playing Links of Sherrill’s Ford Road, and his cousin Zeb Link was a standout outfielder for West Rowan and Catawba.
Bain figured out pretty early that any baseball success that came his way was going to be on the mound.
“My last varsity at-bat was my sophomore year,” he said. “Strictly a pitcher. But maybe I’ll get another at-bat someday. You never know.”
Bain isn’t overpowering, but it’s like he’s memorized the how-to-pitch manual. He works fast, works ahead in the count, and gets a lot of soft contact early in at-bats.
His defense has to love playing behind him.
He’s important because he generally gives Northwest’s bullpen the night off. His pitch-counts are almost always low, and that’s why he’s able to finish what he starts, more often than not.
Bain is smart enough to know his fastball doesn’t scare anyone, but he spots it well, he’s got tailing movement on it, and he’s got a wicked changeup that fools hitters when he does fall behind in the count, and they’re sitting on his fastball.
“Definitely, it’s nice to be left-handed,” Bain said. “If I was a right-hander throwing 83 or so, then no one’s looking at me. Davidson knows what I’ll bring to the table — a lot of two-seam fastballs away and some pretty good changeups.”
Hubbard sent another pitcher to Davidson just a few years ago. Ryan Overcash, a 6-foot-4 right-hander is now a junior with the Wildcats, and he’s made a major contribution, winning eight games in his career.
Bain has spoken with Overcash several times, and Overcash recommends the Davidson experience.
Davidson has a lot to offer. It combines a world-class education with a chance to compete in baseball against some really strong teams in the Southern Conference.
Playing at nearby Davidson also means friends and family are going to have a lot of chances to see Bain. Conference rivals include Elon, UNC Greensboro, Appalachian State and Western Carolina.
“Obviously, when you talk about any athlete going to Davidson, it means he’s had academics as his first priority,” Hubbard said. “Rob’s been great in that regard. He’s been a role model at our schools. He’s always hit the books, and when you do that, the opportunities will usually open up.”
Bain, who is expected to play American Legion ball this summer, ranks eighth in Northwest’s senior class.
Hubbard hopes he has another three or four wins left in his left arm while he’s still wearing orange, but it’s a sure thing that Bain’s going to be successful long after he’s done with baseball.
“I’m planning on pre-law,” Bain said. “Hopefully, I’ll be a lawyer someday— or maybe a CEO.”