Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 26, 2013
LANDIS — “Don’t look at the scoreboard,” Southern Rowan infielder Connor Bridges cautioned pitcher Tyler Sides.
Sides didn’t have to look toward the big board in right field to know he had a no-hitter, but Bridges’ casual advice was enough to jinx him, anyway. Kannapolis’ Tanner Bost ended Sides’ no-hit bid with a single with one out in the sixth.
Still, Sides (2-2), an A.L. Brown grad, was the story on Tuesday as SR rebounded from another loss to Rowan County to beat Kannapolis 6-2 for a divisional win.
“The off-speed stuff was working, and I kept them off-balance,” explained Sides. “I just tried to keep filling up the strike zone and make them hit the ball.”
Sides went seven innings, allowing four singles and one walk.
“Right from the get-go he was in rhythm tonight,” SR coach Ben Hampton said. “He was feeling it, and the ball was flying out of his hand. He only threw 87 pitches, but we got him out after seven because we’ve got two more league games, and we may need him in relief.”
The other end of Souther Rowan’s battery also had a special night. Backup catcher Matt Honeycutt not only gave Bryson Prugh a breather, he produced four hits.
“Honeycutt had a great game not only at the plate but behind it,” Hampton said. “He blocked balls in the dirt, he threw out a runner, and he swung the bat. He did a job.”
Bridges, who played second, shortstop and third, was a human wrecking ball. He not only wiped out Sides’ no-hitter verbally, he destroyed the shutout that Kannapolis hurler Phillip Faggart took into the fourth inning physically.
Dillon Parker broke out of a mini-slump with a solid double to begin the fourth, and in a scoreless game, the correct baseball play for the next batter, Bridges, would’ve been to hit the ball to the right side.
“I was looking to go backside,” the right-handed Carson grad explained. “But the pitcher gave me no choice but to do what I did. He threw the ball in on my hands.”
Bridges sent a double whistling into the left-field corner, Parker scored easily, and SR led 1-0.
“When Connor got that hit, it was a relief off my back,” Sides said. “It was a lot easier to pitch with a lead.”
Ben Gragg stole three bases, and Southern Rowan (12-8, 4-2) had 15 hits, even with the top four in the lineup limited to a 3-for-18 effort by Faggart and Ryan Austin.
Besides Honeycutt’s four hits, Parker and Bridges had three each, and Dylan Goodman had two. The hit that broke it open traveled 10 feet off Honeycutt’s bat in the sixth inning, when SR was still clinging to a 1-0 lead.
Parker and Bridges had singles to start the sixth, and when Honeycutt chatted with Hampton briefly, a bunt seemed very likely.
“He told me if I got a first-pitch fastball to swing the bat, but after that, he wanted me to push a bunt toward first base,” Honeycutt explained.
Faggart’s first pitch was a good curveball. Honeycutt took it. He bunted the second pitch into a perfect spot.
Honeycutt would’ve beaten the play at first, anyway, but when the ball was thrown away, one run scored and two more were in scoring position. Parker Hubbard’s RBI groundout and Tyler Fuller’s sac fly made it 4-0, and the way Sides was throwing, SR was headed to victory.
“Sides hit his spots all night,” Honeycutt said. “He could throw his curveball for a strike in any count.”
Blake Cauble and Austin Bracewell pitched an inning each for Southern.
With singles in the seventh and ninth, Micah Miller had both RBIs for Post 115 (5-12, 0-7), which was officially the home team in the makeup game at the Southern field.
“Faggart pitched deep into the game, and we played pretty well,” Kannapolis coach Joe Hubbard said. “South is just a solid bunch. That’s a really good team.”