North Rowan takes walk-off win over Central Cabarrus, 1-0
By David Shaw
GRANITE QUARRY — It was a situation that begged for someone with Jareke Chambers’ resume. Or more specifically, his speed.
The North Rowan senior ran like he was being chased by a free safety Monday night at Staton Field, where he raced home from second base on a seventh-inning error to give the Cavaliers a 1-0, walk-off win against Central Cabarrus.
“I had made a base-running mistake earlier in the game,” Chambers — a courtesy-runner extraordinaire — said after scoring on teammate Javin Goodine’s none-out smash to shortstop. “So I made a promise to Coach (Aaron) Rimer. I told him if he’d put me on base again, I’d score for him.”
Chambers re-entered the game as a pinch runner after North’s Tyler Shepherd reached on an error, leading off the last of the seventh inning. On losing pitcher Riley McGee’s 1-1 delivery to Goodine, Chambers alertly stole second.
And when Goodine ripped a 2-0 pitch that deflected off shortstop Brendan Fair’s glove and into shallow left field, Chambers motored around third and scored the winning run.
“It was a good way to win. Any way is,” Rimer said after North (6-4) prevailed in its East Rowan Easter Classic opener. “Everybody was in the game right there. Considering we weren’t really hitting this guy, we’ll take it.”
McGee, a senior right-hander, threw well enough to win but was out-dueled by North southpaw Brandon White, who was nothing short of spectacular. The junior had a sneaky-quick fastball and was tougher to hit than the lottery, yielding just a pair of singles, and facing only 23 batters in seven innings.
“He kept his head on straight and stayed focused,” said North catcher Steven Thurston. “He hit his spots real well and they couldn’t catch up to his fastball. By the late innings, it was just a me-and-him thing, almost like batting practice.”
If there were any questions about White being the Cavs’ ace, there shouldn’t be now. He struck out six, walked none, retired 17 of the last 18 Central batters and won his third game of the season.
“Any way, any how, we had to find a way to win this game,” White said after inducing 11 ground outs and throwing first-pitch strikes to 17 hitters. “When I came off after the second inning — when (shortstop) Cory Fries made that great double play — I knew my defense was behind me. From then on, I was locked in and ready to go.”
Central coach Ronnie Bost praised the work of both pitchers. “I can’t fault our guys,” he said after the Vikings fell to 2-8. “Riley pitched extremely well and has all year. And their left-hander did a great job. It’s the first time we’ve seen a lefty this year — other than me throwing BP. Give him credit, but I hate it for Riley.”
McGee allowed only three hits in six-plus innings and worked out of tough jams in the second and fourth innings. In the second, North’s Noah Gonzalez blistered a leadoff triple to right field, but was stranded when McGee retired Shepherd on an infield pop up and fanned Goodine and Robert Monroe. Then in the fourth frame, the Cavs loaded the bases with two away before McGee coaxed Monroe to ground out.
Despite that, there was no overlooking White’s accomplishment. “He’s a leader in the clubhouse,” Rimer noted. “He does things the right way and he expects a lot from his teammates. We expect a lot from him — we hold him to a little bit of a higher standard, but he wants that standard.”
Central Cabarrus 000 000 0 — 0 2 2
North Rowan 000 000 1 — 1 3 1
WP — White (3-2). LP — McGee (0-2).