Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 12, 2014
MOUNT ULLA — Last year’s South Rowan catcher Eric Tyler took one look at a fresh-faced freshman pitcher named Austin Corriher and shook his head.
“You don’t look like an Austin to me,” Tyler said. “You look like a Bo.”
Now a sophomore, Corriher, who has been known to wear boots to practice, will forever be known as Bo to his teammates. He introduced himself to West Rowan on Tuesday.
Move over Bo Jackson, Bo Derek and Bo Diddley, Bo Corriher is here.
South edged West 3-2 in Mount Ulla, as Bo went the distance on the mound.
“Bo pitched his butt off,” said South’s veteran right fielder Tyler Fuller. “That’s all I can say.”
It was a big early game. South exited it 5-0, with all five wins in the SPC. Five different South pitchers have wins. West (3-2) fell to 2-1 in the league.
“We didn’t have good approaches at the plate, and it bit us tonight,” West coach Chad Parker said. “That’s a pretty gritty baseball team South’s got and they gutted out a win.”
Corriher was in trouble early. He hit Michael Pinkston and walked Nick Collins with two outs in the first, and Juan Garcia hammered a double to right-center for a 2-0 West lead.
South was the benefactor of some good fortune when it tied the game against West pitcher Omar Bautista in the third. Bautista’s only two walks of the game came in that inning, and they were sandwiched around a single by Fuller. That loaded the bases for Chase Labbe, and Labbe’s flare just cleared the glove of freshman shortstop Austin Love to plate two runs.
Corriher helped himself with a single to start the fourth. After Hunter Travis singled and Eric Goldston was hit with a pitch, South had the bases loaded for Fuller with one out, and Fuller settled in to battle Bautista.
“He’s an all-round good pitcher,” Fuller said. “You can’t get behind in the count against him, so the plan was to try to hit a fastball early in the count. I just took my natural swing and got a ball in the air far enough to drive in the run.”
Now South led 3-2, and Fuller kept it 3-2 when he gunned out courtesy runner Margarito Romero in the fifth when he tried to score from second base on Jeremy Simpson’s sharp single to right.
“I got a good jump and I tried to throw it right at my cutoff man’s head (first baseman Labbe),” Fuller said. “Next thing I know, (catcher) Matt Honeycutt had the ball and was tagging the guy out.”
Fuller has had four assists in South’s five games.
“He’s really worked hard on his throwing,” South coach Thad Chrismon said. “That’s two he’s gotten at home and two more at third. That’s really helped us.”
After Fuller’s throw, it was up to Bo. The moment of truth for Bo arrived in the West sixth. An error, Micah Marsh’s single and a walk filled the bases with one out, and Chrismon made a slow stroll to the mound. Bo looked tired, but Bo wasn’t going anywhere.
“He wanted to stay in and finish it, and he’d earned that right,” Chrismon said. “And it was great to find out we’ve got a sophomore who wanted to finish an important game in a big environment.”
Chrismon had barely gotten back to the dugout when Noah Teeter hit a hard groundball up the middle. South second baseman Chandler Corriher, no relation to Bo, fielded the ball, stepped on the bag, and fired to Labbe to complete a huge double play, and Bo was out of the jam.
“West has a good lineup, and I knew I had to keep the ball down, but I really did want to keep going,” Bo said. “I wanted to finish what I started,”
Bo also had to fight his way through the seventh. Harrison Baucom battled him for a single after a marathon at-bat, but Bo got all the outs in the seventh on groundballs. He finished with four Ks and 12 outs on the ground to out-duel Bautista, one of the county’s smartest hurlers.
“Bautista is a very skilled pitcher,” Chrismon said. “But I really like the fight our team has. We had good at-bats. We put the ball in play. When you do that, you give yourself a chance.”
The same teams will tangle again on Friday at South. Until then, people will be talking about Bo.
“This was a great win for us,” Fuller said “West is a quality team, but we scrapped all night.”