Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 9, 2013

LANDIS — West Rowan has served notice that it is a team to be reckoned with in the North Piedmont Conference and maybe beyond.
In a battle of the last two North Piedmont Conference unbeatens Friday night at South Rowan, the Falcons carved up their county rivals 11-1 with a nearly flawless performance. Junior righty Michael Ball (2-0) had his breaking ball working to perfection all night as he hurled a complete game five hitter.
“They couldn’t hit my curve ball tonight,” Ball said. “It was really working for me. Plus, our offense was really working and our defense really came around tonight.”
The win pushed West to 6-0 for the season, their best start in at least two decades, plus they are 2-0 in the NPC. South suffered their first setback and stand at 3-1. 1-1.
Ball’s pitching was backed by a 15-hit Falcon attack and only one inconsequential error. Lead-off man Harrison Baucom and third baseman Juan Garcia led the offense with three hits each while Michael Pinkston and Taylor Garczynski chipped in with two hits each. It was such a balanced attack, in fact, that all nine West starters had at least one hit and all nine also scored at least one run.
“That was just a great win for us,” Falcon coach Chad Parker stated. “Offensively we had a great night, defensively we took care of the baseball, and we got a great pitching performance from Michael Ball. It was a good all-around night for us.”
For the host Raiders, things fell apart in the middle innings as they committed six errors and were unable to come up with a key hit against Ball.
West broke out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the third with consecutive singles by Garczynski, Hunter Teeter and Nick Collins plus two infield errors by South. The Raiders responded with their only run in the bottom of the third on Dillon Parker’s one out RBI single to make it 3-1.
The Falcons expanded their margin to 5-1 in the top of the fourth inning as another error, followed by doubles from Baucom and Justin Evans plus an infield single by Garczynski plated the runs.
South’s Aaron Bare (1-1) hung in until he was chased in f the fifth after giving up back-to-back singles. Billy Winecoff came on in relief and walked the next batter to load the bases. South escaped on a fielder’s choice grounder but it was just a sign of things to come.
A one-out error in the top of the fifth served to open the floodgates as West plated four more runs to put the game out of reach. Garcia doubled to the fence in left, Jeremy Simpson blooped a single over second base then DH Bubba McLaughlin towered another double to left that made the score 9-1.
West added a couple of more in the top of the seventh on Garcia’s bloop hit, then a wild pitch and error with two outs that made it 11-1. It was that kind of night for South.
“We just didn’t play our best,” coach Thad Chrismon said. “We have a lot of work to do and these kids will learn from this experience and get better. These are good kids and they support each other. We just didn’t play well at all tonight.”
Parker had the same type of praise for his unbeaten squad but didn’t want to emphasize the signifiance of this early showdown.
“We stay focused, we stay hungry and we stay humble,” he stated. “But I would rather worry about how we finish than how we start.”

NOTES: South will play at home again this Monday in a nonconference game against North Rowan. … It will be a special recognition and fund-raiser for Relay for Life and the battle against cancer.