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GRANITE QUARRY — East Rowan didn’t play East Rowan baseball Tuesday night against Concord and it cost them.
The Mustangs had two chances to win with the bases loaded in the seventh and eighth innings but couldn’t deliver either time.
The Spiders did — cranking back-to-back home runs in the top of the ninth to leave Granite Quarry with a wild 7-4 victory.
“I think it basically boiled down to the fact that we didn’t play very well,” a frustrated Brian Hightower said. “We didn’t execute the little things ­­— we kicked it and made more errors than we have in the first four games.
“But we had several opportunities to win it after we played terrible.”
The Mustangs fell behind 4-1 in the sixth before battling back.
Dustin Ritchie reached on a fielder’s choice to open the frame before Luke Setzer roped a RBI triple to the right-field corner to cut it to 4-2. Scott Sapp followed with a run-scoring groundout to second to bring in Setzer.
In the seventh, Connor Johnson battled to draw a full-count walk to kickstart the rally.
After a strikeout, Ty Beck laid down a perfect bunt just in front of the plate, forcing an errant throw to first, allowing Johnson to reach third. Ike Freeman then blooped a single in front of a charging defender in right to tie things up at 4-all.
After loading the bases, Concord relief pitcher Tyler Thomas buckled down and got the two final strikeouts to send the game to extras.
East managed to load the bases again on Thomas in the eighth with one out. But once again, the hard-throwing lefty struck out the final two batters to get out of the jam.
“Tyler Thomas was more of a man than we were when it came down to clutch time, bottom line, and that hurts my feelings,” Hightower explained. “We have to get better and man up in those types of situations and win ballgames when you have the opportunity to win them.
“That can’t happen at East Rowan,” he continued. “There’s too much tradition and too many fans here at home, and you have to play in front of this crowd and deliver. That’s what we’ve always been known to do, but we didn’t get it done, and I have to get them ready to get it done.”
After escaping in both innings, the Spiders broke the game wide open when starting pitcher Drew Yoos belted a 2-run home run down the left-field line. Cody Franklin followed with a solo shot to left-center to all but seal the 7-4 victory.
“We pride ourselves on winning games in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings, but we just didn’t get it done,” Hightower added.
The Mustangs have no time to dwell on the loss as bitter rival Carson comes calling tonight in China Grove.
“We have no time to bounce back. We’re going to put Connor Johnson on the mound and we’re going to go play with high intensity and man up and get it done,” Hightower continued.
“You just have to go out there and play. I like it that we’re going to turn around and play tonight — this is what we live for.”

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