Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 10, 2013
MOUNT ULLA — The talk has been about Carson’s pitching and West Rowan’s hitting, but South Rowan quietly has put together an under-the-radar winning streak of its own.
When the Raiders won 3-1 at West on Tuesday behind Dillon Parker, they moved into second place in the NPC. It was the eighth straight victory for South (12-3, 6-2), which hasn’t lost since it was buzz-sawed by Carson on March 15.
This is the longest winning streak for South since 2003 when it was still playing in the 4A ranks and had Andrew Morgan and Daniel Moore knocking CPC foes out regularly as a 1-2 pitching punch.
This South team isn’t even sure who its No. 2 starter is — six different guys own at least one win — but it does know who No. 1 is. Parker (6-0) not only has half of South’s wins, he leads the county.
“Dillon was spectacular tonight,” SR coach Thad Chrismon said. “He commanded both sides of the plate and he beat a team that swings it. And give (catcher) Eric Tyler credit for calling a smart game.”
West buried South 11-1 when the teams met on March 8, but the individual on the bump makes a big difference.
“Dillon competes really hard for us,” South center fielder Dylan Goodman said. “We knows he’s going to give us a good chance to win.”
West answered with sophomore Omar Bautista, who has been fantastic this season while hurling low-profile games. This was his first big one, and he handled the challenge. Bautista (4-1) threw well enough to win, went the distance and held South to six hits, but he took his first loss.
“I’d like to have two pitches back, but Omar gave us the start we needed,” West coach Chad Parker said. “I’ve got no complaints with him. He pitched well with men on base and he fielded his position well. We just needed to swing the bats better. We had good approaches in the seventh, but we needed that earlier.”
Dillon Parker shut out East Rowan, but this probably was his best effort. He allowed five hits and struck out six. South needed him to be good because Bautista kept it 0-0 a long time.
“Bautista was extremely tough,” Chrismon said. “He had nice velocity and very good command.”
South had more chances than West (14-3, 5-3) early, but the Raiders twice bunted into force plays after they got the leadoff man on base. Both times, Bautista made an athletic play.
Because South’s Jake Fulton started a 4-6-3 double play in the first inning and because Tyler picked a runner off first base in the fourth, Dillon Parker had to face only 13 Falcons in the first four innings.
South broke through in the fifth.
Jonnie Lefebvre walked, the fifth straight South leadoff man to reach base, and Eric Stowe executed on a sacrifice bunt.
Leadoff man Tyler Fuller, who had two hits, tried a surprise bunt, but popped up for the second out. Goodman was next, and he whacked a huge, run-scoring single up the middle with two strikes on him.
Goodman continued to second on a high throw home, and with a base open, Tyler is going to get walked. But Bautista hung a curveball to Dillon Parker, and he smoked it to the fence in right-center to plate two runs for a 3-0 lead.
Hunter Teeter started the bottom of the seventh with a triple and scored on a hit by Justin Evans. That prompted a mound visit from Chrismon, but he stuck with his ace.
“You’ve got to expect that team is going to get some hits,” Dillon Parker said. “I just had to work through it.”
With two out and two on, Parker retired ex-teammate Bubba McLaughlin on a dramatic 3-2 pitch. McLaughlin hit it pretty well, but Fulton snagged it, and SR’s streak continued.
“We got beat 10-0 here last year, so this is big for us,” Dillon Parker said. “It’s a game we really needed, but we’re not done yet. This just helps get us closer to where we want to go.”