Prep Baseball: West Rowan 6, West Iredell 2: Falcons capture third seed
By Ryan Bisesi
MOUNT ULLA — It was the win West Rowan had waited three years for.
The Falcons got great defense, pitching and timely hitting in a 6-2 win against West Iredell on their home turf to clinch the first playoff bid for the school since 2009. West slithered its way out of a three-way knot in the NPC playoff eligible against a team it battled for first against three weeks ago in the roller-coaster North Piedmont Conference. The postseason drought felt longer to West Rowan pitcher Michael Ball, who provided six innings for his seventh win on Senior Night.
“This is the first time we’ve made the playoffs in, like, five years,” Ball said. “It’s amazing.”
West Rowan’s win grants it the league’s third seed and a date with North Iredell in the first round of the NPC Tournament next week.
“I think that’s the most complete game we’ve played all year,” West coach Chad Parker said. “For us, it came at the right time.”
Ball scattered six hits over six innings, struck out four and benefitted from a pair of throws that ended threats in the fifth and sixth innings. Sean Grant was thrown out at second to end the fifth with a runner rounding third and Lance Clanton was gunned down at third on a throw from Louis Kraft across the diamond to end the sixth.
“Both times they kept runs from scoring,” Parker said. “Those were huge plays.”
“You can’t do it without your defense,” Ball said.
Ball threw first-pitch strikes to 13 batters and overcame some early trouble.
West Iredell took a brief 1-0 lead in the first on a single from Grant to score pitcher Brett Pope. West tied it in the bottom of the first on a Justin Evans sacrifice fly.
The Falcons (10-12, 6-6) scored two runs in the second to take the lead for keeps.
Michael Pinkston doubled and Jonah Marsh and Rhett Hellard got run-scoring singles for a 3-1 edge. Marsh and Hellard, the 8-9 batters, went 3-for-6 and drove in three runs.
“The bottom of our order helped us out a lot tonight,” Parker said. “They played defensively unlike we have all year.”
After a 1-2-3 third, Matt Miller reached on a single to start the fourth for West Rowan. Michael Pinkston and Nick Collins added singles to bring him home for a 4-1 lead as WI pitcher Brett Pope began to feel the heat and was pulled for Grant, last year’s NPC Player of the Year.
The Falcons added two more in the sixth with Kraft doubling and going to third on an errant pickoff throw from home. Miller followed with a walk and went to second on a wild pitch. Marsh brought him both home on a single to cap the scoring.
Marsh overcame an early error to go 2-for-3 at the plate and made a fantastic running catch in deep center to end the game to send the Falcons to the postseason in style.
“Instead of them faltering when we put pressure on them, they made plays,” West Iredell coach Randy Martin said. “Give them credit.”
Miller threw a 1-2-3 final inning. Grant and Williams were the only Warriors with two hits.
“This meant a lot for our program,” Parker said. “Gosh, I’ve never been to the playoffs since I’ve come to North Carolina.”
NOTES: Hunter Teeter and Michael Pinkston had two hits for WR…West Iredell (10-9, 6-6) will play South Rowan in the first round of the conference tournament.
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