Prep Baseball: Baseball playoffs get under way

Published 9:00 pm Monday, May 11, 2015

By Mike London

CHINA GROVE — Chris Cauble has coached high school baseball teams at West Rowan or Carson for the past 16 seasons and is leading a team into the 3A state playoffs for the 14th time.

Cauble was 6-for-7 on making the playoffs at West Rowan from 2000-06, and he’s 8-for-9 at Carson. Cauble has learned a few things over the years. One of those things is that you go with your best on the mound in the first round, regardless of age or experience.

That means freshman Owen White will take the ball for the 15th-seeded Cougars when they host 18th-seeded Enka High School in the first round of the 3A state playoffs on Tuesday. White is scheduled to throw his first pitch at 6 p.m.

“He’s been our workhorse all year,” Cauble said. “He’s been our No. 1 guy all year. He’s earned the right to start this playoff game, but every arm we have will be ready.”

White is not an ordinary freshman. He strikes out three batters for every walk. His ERA is 1.05. His 7-2 record includes a loss to Hickory Ridge in the SPC tournament semifinals in which Carson’s defense let him down. White’s other loss was a 4-3 score to SPC champion West Rowan.

Carson, like everyone else, didn’t find out from the NCHSAA until Monday who it was going to be matched up with in the playoffs. So there wasn’t a lot of time for detailed scouting reports. Cauble expects 6-foot-5 senior right-hander Matt Frisbee — a great name for a guy who throws things — to be on the bump for the Enka Jets. Frisbee has signed with UNC Greensboro.

Frisbee also is a key hitter for Enka (13-8). In a recent 1-0 win against Asheville, Frisbee pitched a shutout, struck out 11 and drove in the game’s only run.

“The guy I’d compare Frisbee to in our league (South Piedmont Conference) would be Hickory Ridge’s Collin Sprinkle,” Cauble said. “He’s going to be throwing 85-87 and he has a good slider. Enka  has a lot of talent. They’ve got several guys who signed (with colleges).”

Obviously, it’s going to be a challenge for the Cougars to advance. They have won their first-round playoff game five straight seasons. Carson reached the fourth round in 2014.

Cauble is just happy to be playing  at home.

“We knew we’d be seeded somewhere between 14 and 18, and we’re glad we fell where we got a first-round home game,” Cauble said. “Playing at home beats having to travel all the way to Enka.”

White is also one of the top hitters for Carson. First baseman Heath Mitchem, center fielder Michael Morrison and second baseman Matt Saul have been the other offensive leaders. Morrison is the catalyst for the Cougars’ offense and leads the team in runs scored.

Cauble expects runs to be at a premium. He expects a 2-1 or 3-2 sort of game.

“What we’ve talked  about is being completely focused because playoff games almost always come down to one or two little things, and you can’t make mental errors,” Cauble said.

Eighteen competitive SPC games, including the 13-inning marathon with Concord in the first round of the league tournament, should be good preparation for the Cougars.

“Everyone’s good at this point, and every team in the playoffs is capable of making a run,” Cauble said. “We won seven in a row at one point this season. Maybe we can get hot again.”

First-round baseball games are scheduled for Tuesday or Wednesday.

• 3A: No. 23 South Rowan at No. 10 Cuthbertson, Tuesday, 5:00 (no lights).

• 3A: No. 29 Hickory at No. 3 West Rowan, Tuesday, 6:30.

• 4A: No. 31 A.L. Brown at No. 2 Ardrey Kell, Tuesday, 7:00.

• 3A: No. 22 East Rowan at No. 11 Crest, Wednesday, 7:00.

• 2A: No. 21 Salisbury at No. 12 Parkwood, Wednesday, 7:00.

• 4A: No. 30 Davie at No. 3 East Forsyth,  Wednesday, 7:00.

• 2A: No. 19 North Rowan at No. 14 East Davidson, Wednesday, 7:30