Prep Baseball Signing: Catawba grabs West Iredell star Grant

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 20, 2012

By Mike London
SALISBURY — A key to Catawba’s baseball recruiting class is a 5-foot-9 lefty that only Catawba and Pfeiffer avidly pursued.
The 5-9 guy’s numbers?
Offensively, he batted .468 with 21 RBIs.
On the mound, he had nine strikeouts for every walk, went 6-4 for a team that won 12 and posted an ERA of 0.80.
The 5-9 guy is West Iredell’s Sean Grant, and if you follow the North Piedmont Conference, you’ve heard of him. The last two seasons, he’s been a handful.
“We rode him on offense and defense,” West Iredell coach Randy Martin said. “Especially when he pitched. He always wanted the ball, and the tougher the jam, the tougher Sean got.”
Martin e-mailed bigger colleges about his star, but 5-9 is 5-9, and while Grant has good velocity, the radar gun will never tell the whole story.
“Who he reminds me of is Nick Lomascolo,” said Catawba coach Jim Gantt. “Not as tall, obviously, but like Nick he’s a lefty that can pitch to both sides of the plate. He doesn’t throw — he pitches.”
Any comparison to Lomascolo is high praise. Lomascolo, a Lake Norman product, has been a terrific starter for the Indians for three seasons.
Grant’s first contact with a Catawba coach came when he was playing American Legion ball for Statesville against South Rowan.
“I was batting and (South catcher Joseph) Basinger asked me if I was going anywhere,” Grant recalls. “I told him, ‘Nah, I’m kinda short.’ Then Basinger said, ‘Yeah, but you’re good.’ ”
South coach and Catawba assistant Michael Lowman agreed. He spoke to Grant following that game, and the recruiting process began. Grant liked the closeness of Salisbury and also the fact that the Indians win often, so it wasn’t a tough sell for Lowman.
Grant is a smooth first baseman, but he understands his height limitations and will focus on pitching in college.
He tossed nine complete games as a senior with four shutouts. He has a four-pitch repertoire — fastball, curve, slider and changeup.
“I had success pitching backwards this year — getting ahead with a curve, and then throwing a fastball on their hands when they were looking breaking ball,” Grant said.
Grant pitched a ton of innings late in the season with West Iredell clawing to make the 3A playoffs, but Martin says he was prepared for it.
“I get criticized some for over-using him, but I know how Sean prepares,” Martin said. “He knows how to ice his arm. He also is a kid that will get up early and run every morning after he pitches.”
In a perfect world, Grant would be 6-2 and would have 5 more miles an hour, but if that were the case, he wouldn’t be headed to Catawba.
Rowan fans are looking forward to having him in the home dugout, and Martin is looking forward to seeing him at Newman Park.
“Sean’s happy to be going to Catawba,” Martin said. “They play good baseball, as good as some of the D-I schools.”