Prep Baseball Playoffs: South Rowan 7, Asheboro 5

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 15, 2012

By Mike London
ASHEBORO — South Rowan needed a half-dozen things to fall its way late in the NPC regular season and the conference tournament just to make the 3A playoffs, but once the Raiders got in, they were 0-0 like everyone else.
South (17-10) got fine pitching by Dillon Parker and three RBIs from Parker Hubbard and held off Asheboro 7-5 on Tuesday at McCrary Park for its second road victory in the playoffs.
South was in complete control until the bottom of the seventh when the Blue Comets (11-13) put four on the board. After Nick Hannon’s two-run double tightened things up and pushed South fans to the edge of their seats, reliever Aaron Bare finally got that elusive last out.
“Up to that last out, you always stress,” South coach Thad Chrismon said with a relieved grin. “I put Bare in there to throw a few curveballs and end it, and darn if he doesn’t make it interesting.”
Parker, who pitched into the seventh and didn’t allow an earned run, was the biggest story. He was 0-3 at one point, but now he’s 5-3.
“I remember how tough it was watching Carson play West Iredell in the tournament and knowing our season was over if Carson lost,” Parker said. “We’re excited to still be playing and we’re playing better and better.”
South didn’t bruise many baseballs. Still, the Raiders scratched out seven runs with six singles, eight walks, four hit batsman, three stolen bases, two sac bunts and one sac fly. It was one base at a time, but the merry-go-round never stopped spinning.
“Asheboro helped us with walks, but we really put together some tough at-bats to fight and get those walks,” Chrismon said. “Whatever it took, we did it. Guys got on base and the guys behind them executed.”
Hubbard’s RBI single in the first inning gave South a lead it never lost.
In the second, the Raiders made it 3-0. Bubba McLaughlin’s sac bunt moved two runners, and they scored on Austin Holbrook’s sac fly and Tyler Fuller’s single.
Eric Tyler’s RBI single in the third and Hubbard’s bases-loaded walk staked Parker to a 5-1 lead, and he was determined to hold it.
“It was a tough adjustment for our hitters because we saw a guy on Friday (Robinson’s Clemson-bound Brody Koerner), who was throwing about 15 miles an hour harder,” Asheboro coach Tim Murray said. “But give South’s pitcher a lot of credit. He located, and he was always around the strike zone, so he got the benefit of the doubt from the umpire on some close pitches. Our pitchers were all over the place. When you do that, even when you hit a corner, you’re not going to get the call.”
The key moment for Parker, who was spotting his fastball perfectly and fooling hitters with cutters, came in the fifth. He still had that 5-1 lead, but then he issued back-to-back, two-out walks, leading to a visit from Chrismon.
“He just wanted to remind me we were playing great defense, so I had to focus on throwing strikes,” said Parker, who promptly got a groundball to end the inning.
South tacked on two more runs late, one on a squeeze by Hubbard, and it needed that insurance in the seventh.
“We’ve been more aggressive in the playoffs, and that’s helping us manufacture runs,” Hubbard said. “Our best practices have been in the last few days, and we’re all playing with a lot of confidence.”
The unsung hero was second baseman Eric Goldston, who didn’t bat but made two stellar plays in the field.
“He’s been unbelievable for a sophomore,” Hubbard said. “From the first day he was on varsity, he’s played like an upperclassman.”
South plays Mount Pleasant or Hickory Ridge on Friday.