Prep Baseball Playoffs: Weddington 8, South Rowan 0: Raiders' season ends in fourth round
By Mike London
WEDDINGTON — Down big and in danger of being 10-run-ruled, South Rowan’s Matt Miller trudged back to his position at third base with his chin almost resting in his lap.
South, understandably put its heads down a little bit during an 8-0, season-ending loss to Weddington on Tuesday, but it was a season the Raiders will hold their heads high about down the road.
“It hurts now, but when they’ve had time to sit back and reflect, our three seniors (Matt Miller, Parker Hubbard and Jordan Kennerly) will realize they put a stamp on their careers these past few weeks,” South coach Thad Chrismon said. “And once all our guys have time to sit back and reflect, they’ll realize how much this run meant to this program and they’ll realize how many people in the community are proud of what they did.”
Playing in the fourth round of the 3A playoffs, South (18-11) was the last Rowan team standing for the first time since 2003 when Andrew Morgan led a charge into the third round in 4A.
South also produced more victories than in any year since it won a school-record 23 in 1996.
There wasn’t any disgrace in what happened at Weddington (24-6). The Warriors, who also eliminated Carson and West Rowan in this year’s playoffs and knocked out East Rowan last year, played well, and South just couldn’t buy a clutch hit.
The Raiders left 13 men on base, which might be a world record in a shutout.
“Our hitters got big hits and our pitchers got big outs — that’s what it came down to,” Weddington coach Travis Poole said. “I thought South’s starting pitcher (Dillon Parker) did a good job. It was just one of those nights when we got key hits at key times.”
South got down 2-0 in the first inning, but it had numerous opportunities to turn things around.
“The chance was there when it was 2-0 and again at 4-0 to get right back into it,” Chrismon said. “It’s not like we didn’t battle. We made their pitcher work, made him throw a lot of pitches,”
Weddington starter Sean Collins walked seven and plunked two in four, high-wire-act innings, but he also didn’t allow a single hit.
Collins struck out Tyler Fuller on a marathon at-bat with the bases full to close the second, got Parker to ground out to strand two in the third, and got a low strike three on Hubbard with the bases full to end the fourth.
If South gets a big base hit in any of those three situations, the game changes.
“We were one hit away several times,” South catcher Eric Tyler noted. “But you have to give their pitcher all the credit. He kept us from getting that hit.”
David Pope relieved Collins to start the fifth. He walked the first man he faced, but he retired the next three.
Bubba McLaughlin singled to start the sixth — South’s first hit — but Raiders were stranded at second and third when Hubbard grounded out.
“Plenty of opportunities, but we didn’t hit and we didn’t score,” Hubbard said. “We just couldn’t get it going tonight.”
Weddington, which got three hits each from Catawba signee Andrew Knight and Charlotte signee Jeremy Schellhorn, threatened to 10-run-rule South in the bottom of the sixth. The bases were loaded with one out when Kennerly threw a good pitch that produced a double-play ball. That enabled South to avoid 10-run-rule territory.
“My last game as a Raider, so to keep us from getting run-ruled was a pretty good way to finish,” Kennerly said.
Miller led off the seventh with a single for South’s other hit, but the Raiders went down quietly after that.
“These last few weeks, we’ve always been able to get that spark and then build on it,” Miller said. “But we couldn’t find that spark anywhere.”
There was nothing left to do except one last round of hugs and a last round of applause from proud fans.
It was a great ride, but now it was time for that last long bus ride home.
“We just ran into a better team tonight,” Tyler said quietly. “I know they hit it, pitched it and fielded it better than we did — but that doesn’t make it any easier.”
NOTE: Weddington advances to a best-of-three West 3A regional final series against North Buncombe.