2012 All-Rowan County Baseball: The team
By Mike London
SALISBURY — Rowan County baseball started slow but finished strong.
East won another NPC championship. Carson won the NPC tourney in the longest game in school history.
Everybody made the playoffs.
Carson made its best playoff run ever and led the county with 19 wins. South made the most postseason noise it’s made since the 1980s and finished with 18 victories.
Offense was down, but that was more a product of the BBCOR bat than a precipitous plunge in the talent level.
“The bats changed everything,” said East catcher Nathan Fulbright. “You had to try to hit the ball on a line. Flyballs were outs. Balls that used to find a gap just found an outfielder’s glove.”
All the Rowan teams combined for only 26 homers. As recently as 2008, East alone belted 25.
It was all about pitching-and-defense. Small-ball replaced parking-lot ball, and South set a world record for sacrifice bunts and squeezes.
A beneficiary of the power outage, obviously, was Rowan pitchers. Carson had four hurlers with ERAs under 2.00.
The all-county team reflects the dominance of pitching. Eight of the 18 were key hurlers for their teams.
The all-county team includes four from Carson, East and South and two from Salisbury, West and North.
Dillon Atwell, Carson, Soph.
Atwell won the Patrick Snider Award as Rowan’s Pitcher of the Year. The fast-working right-hander tied for the county lead with seven wins and his ERA of 1.13 was best among all the starters.
Andy Austin, East, Sr.
A lefty-hitting first baseman headed to UNC Wilmington, Austin started off in an 0-for-9 slump, but he hit safely in 11 of his last 13 games.
Austin rallied to a .319 batting average, led the Mustangs with 23 runs scored, turned in another Gold Glove year defensively and made all-county for the third time.
Michael Ball, West, So.
A huge surprise, the right-hander won seven times for a team that had 11 victories.
Ball pitched a big win against West Iredell that secured third in the NPC for the Falcons, and he won in relief when West rallied from an 8-1 deficit to beat East Rowan.
Brian Bauk, Salisbury, Jr.
Bauk missed his team’s first five games with a shoulder injury and still put up outstanding two-way numbers.
All-county for the second time, Bauk led the Hornets in runs (20), hits (25), steals (20) and batting average (.424). On the mound, he was 4-3 with 62 strikeouts in 47 innings.
Justin Evans, West, Jr.
Evans had his moments on the mound, including a shutout of South Rowan, but he’s all-county because of his bat.
The lefty-swinging DH batted .333 in West’s seven games against South, East and Carson, and he hit one of the two homers that West Iredell’s Sean Grant allowed this year.
Nathan Fulbright, East, Sr.
Among other things, the Rowan County Player of the Year struck out only six times while reaching base on walks and HBPs 16 times.
Tyler Fuller, South, So.
The speedy Fuller led the Raiders in batting average (.370), hits (30), runs (27) and steals (12). He also was an asset anywhere he played in the outfield. He began the season batting ninth but moved to leadoff after a 7-for-11 start.
Chase Hathcock, East, Sr.
The steady second baseman, Hathcock made one error all season and was consistent at the plate, delivering at least one hit in 20 of East’s 25 games. He batted .337 and led the Mustangs with 28 hits, including a memorable game-winner that beat Carson 1-0.
Parker Hubbard, South, Sr.
Hubbard is an exceptional second baseman, but his midseason move to shortstop changed South’s season.
His diving catch for a double play to end the Marvin Ridge game in the first round of the playoffs was a defining moment in South’s postseason run. He also produced offensively, driving in 18 runs.
Colton Laws, Carson, So.
Laws knocked in 15 runs and was a fine first baseman, but he’s all-county because of his pitching, including a brilliant effort in the playoffs at Northwest Cabarrus.
Laws was 4-0 with a 1.01 ERA and fanned more than a batter per inning.
Josh Martin, Carson, Sr.
An all-county repeater, Martin was a two-way standout. He batted .298, played a solid shortstop and was 5-2 on the mound with a 1.46 ERA.
Pitching was his forte early in the season, and he had strong wins against Robinson, Salisbury and South Rowan.
Chance Mazza, North, Soph.
Mazza was North’s leading hitter and was strong defensively in right or center field. He went 4-for-4 and scored three runs in the Cavaliers’ big upset of Carson and he had a four-RBI day in a YVC win against Gray Stone.
Matt Miller, South, Sr.
Another repeater, Miller was good on the mound (five wins, 2.24 ERA, 66 strikeouts) and at the plate (.338, 16 RBIs.) He signed early with Wingate.
Alex Morgan, North, Sr.
Headed to Methodist, the versatile Morgan played catcher, right field or second base. A repeat all-county pick, he had a .500 on-base percentage and smacked North’s only homer. He also led the Cavs in runs, doubles and steals.
Bryson Prugh, Carson, Soph.
It’s pronounced “Prue,” although Prugh has gotten used to being announced as Pugh, among other things.
He slumped a bit at the end, but the young catcher had a great year. He paced the county with three homers, led the Cougars with 18 RBIs and was an asset defensively.
Bradley Robbins, East, Sr.
Had he not let big leads slip away against West Rowan and Hickory Ridge, the right-handed flamethrower would’ve repeated as Rowan’s Pitcher of the Year because he was great at times. He led the county by a mile in strikeouts with 97 and went 4-1 with a 1.98 ERA.
Robbins, who signed with Tallahassee Community College, was a capable outfielder when he didn’t pitch and contributed offensively with two homers and 14 runs scored.
Eric Tyler, South, Jr.
He’s 5-foot-8, but Tyler’s defensive prowess, especially his throwing arm, make him a certain college catcher.
An all-county repeater, he did his share offensively. He batted .315 with 22 runs and 14 RBIs and moved runners along as South’s No. 2 hitter.
Scott van der Poel, SHS, Sr.
Headed to Gardner-Webb, the right-handed-hitting outfielder, batted .375, knocked in 14 runs and swiped 14 bases.
He went 3-for-3, homered and drove in all five Salisbury runs in a 7-5 loss to West Davidson in the CCC tournament championship game.