KANNAPOLIS — That looked like frost on the bill of Dillon Parker’s cap, but he felt warm and fuzzy inside after an awesome opening-day performance.
Sure, it’s too early for baseball, but Parker and South Rowan are 1-0 after beating A.L. Brown 12-2 on Thursday at Veterans Field.
“It was a little cold,” said Parker, of a game played in conditions better suited for polar-bear hunting or ice-fishing. “But you’ve got to be able to push through that, and we did. It was a good day. Everyone did well.”
Well, not quite everyone. A.L. Brown hitters didn’t fare all that well during Parker’s five innings on the mound.
He struck out six, walked one and limited the home team to an unearned run in the fourth when the Wonders briefly tied the game 1-1 on an error, a stolen base and a single by Nate Sexton.
Parker had the decisive blow offensively in the fifth.
Dylan Goodman opened the inning with his third straight double, but A.L. Brown starter Eldon Peters breathed a sigh of relief when he got South slugger Eric Tyler to bounce harmlessly back to the mound.
That sigh of relief turned into a sigh of dismay, however, when Parker followed with a two-run homer that was a no-doubter. There’s something about opening day that gets Parker pumped up. He also belted a homer in South’s 2012 opener.
“I was down in the count and was just trying to use a good two-strike approach and put it in play,” Parker explained. “I made contact, and that ball just took off.”
Parker homered to right field, which was not a pleasant place to be Thursday because of a fierce wind and a tough sun.
Goodman’s first two doubles might have been flyouts under routine conditions but both fell safely in deep right. Still, the Pfeiffer-bound senior shortstop wasn’t going to complain about a four-hit opening day.
“Nature — the sun and the wind — helped me out a lot, but I’ll take what I can get,” he “And I squared up that double I hit to center field pretty good.”
Goodman scored South’s first run when Tyler bounced a single into right field. His well-stroked double to center preceded Parker’s homer.
Peters worked out of a series of tough spots, including a bases-loaded, none-out mess in the first, so it was still a 3-1 game after six innings.
“We didn’t hit well with runners in scoring position, and they stayed in it,” South coach Thad Chrismon said. “It was two good pitchers going at it, a really good game for the first time out.”
Billy Winecoff pitched the sixth and seventh for South.
It got crazy in the South seventh when the Raiders scored nine runs against Brown’s pen.
Winecoff’s bouncer with the bases full and none out found a hole, and floodgates opened. Nathan Lambert powered a three-run double in that inning.
“Baseball can be a tricky game,” Chrismon said. “A foot to the left and that bouncer is a double play and maybe we don’t get anything in that inning.”
A.L. Brown coach Empsy Thompson agreed his team played better than 12-2 sounds.
“I’m disappointed but not upset,” he said.
“They beat us, but we didn’t beat ourselves. We played with effort and it was tit for tat until the seventh.”