South Rowan wins baseball over NW Cabarrus
By Marny Hendrick
LANDIS — It was a great first day at the office for South Rowan pitcher Dillon Norton. The sophomore lefty earned a win in relief, drove in a run and for good measure, stole a base on Saturday afternoon.
The Raiders and Norton finally got on a baseball field for real Saturday at home and rallied to defeat Northwest Cabarrus, 6-3, in a season opener for both teams. In a preseason filled with snow, ice and wet fields, both coaches lamented the fact that they had to start the new season with a South Piedmont conference game, despite very few practices and no scrimmages.
“You can’t make excuses because everyone is in the same boat,” said veteran Trojan coach Joe Hubbard. “South just did a better job of handling the situation than we did. ”
South Rowan’s Thad Chrismon said lack of proper preparation time creates a situation, “where you are just going to have some things to work through, but we did a good job in the end.”
In the early going, the visiting Trojans (0-1, 0-1 SPC) grabbed the upper hand, thanks to the power bat of big first baseman Tim Furr. He cranked a long homer to left off of South starter Bo Corriher in the first inning and then drove in two more runs in the top of third with a sharp single up the middle, making the score 3-1.
South (1-0, 1-0) produced their first run in the second inning on back-to-back doubles by Corriher and Eric Stowe, but didn’t turn the tide until the fourth. That is where Norton came in to save the day. Northwest had two on and two out in the top half of the frame when Norton entered for Corriher and quickly notched a strikeout.
The Raiders then forged ahead for good in the bottom of the fourth as Stowe and Norton got big singles, then combined for a double steal of second and home to tie the score. NWC came unglued a little as well as a force play throw to home by third baseman Cal Hubbard sailed high and allowed South to take a 4-3 lead. All three runs were unearned in the frame.
South tacked on two more runs in the fifth inning on a Hunter Travis single, another Trojan error and three walks. NWC ended the game with six errors and six walks by starter Alex Rodriguez and two relievers.
That was all the breathing room Norton needed to claim his first varsity win on the mound, going 3 1/3 innings, allowing two singles and striking out five.
“I think I threw pretty good,” Norton said. “When I came in, it was kind of a bad situation (two on, two out) but I just had to throw strikes and let my defense work. ”
Chrismon felt his young pitcher did what was expected of him. “He came in and filled up the zone with strikes,” he said. “That is important to do in relief, especially early in the season.”
Trojan coach Hubbard was a little more blunt. “We just didn’t figure him out,” he said.
South was led at the plate by Stowe with two hits and an RBI. Chandler Corriher also drove in a run. Furr had the early power for the Trojans with his two hits and all three RBI. David Grimm added a pair of singles.
Both teams get right back into SPC action with home games on Monday, weather permitting. South hosts Concord while the Trojans entertain West Rowan.
NW Cabarrus 102 000 0 — 3 6 6
South Rowan 010 320 x — 6 7 1
WP: Dillon Norton (1-0)
LP: Alex Rodriguez (0-1)