All-County Baseball: Bautista winner of Patrick Snider Memorial Award
By Mike London
SALISBURY — The pivotal contest in the South Piedmont Conference baseball season took place on April 13 — South Rowan at West Rowan.
It was a night that West Rowan pitcher Omar Bautista didn’t have his best stuff and was rapped for 10 hits — by far, the most he allowed all season.
Still, Bautista competed for eight innings. West Rowan persevered, 4-3, and that was the night the Falcons finally passed the Raiders in the standings.
West Rowan started the season 3-3 in the league but won its last 10 SPC games to claim its first conference championship since 2004.
April 13 was the turning point for the team and for Bautista.
“That South Rowan game was the most memorable night of the season,” Bautista said. “The crowd was loud. It was a tough game. Both teams battled for it, but we got the win.”
Most of his senior season, Bautista breezed and dominated, but it was that night, when he had to dig deep and fight on every pitch, that means the most to him. That tells you a lot about him.
Bautista is the winner of the Patrick Snider Memorial Award as the Rowan County Pitcher of the Year. This is the fifth year the award has been given in remembrance of Snider, a standout pitcher for North Rowan who lost a battle with cancer when he was 17. Bautista is the first Falcon to win the award.
Snider’s No. 7 is on the right-field wall at Newman Park, and Bautista will honor Snider’s memory every time he takes the mound as the ace of this summer’s Rowan County American Legion team.
When Bautista signed with Catawba Valley Community College, West Rowan coach Seth Graham said Bautista had “the most consistent season of any pitcher he’s ever been associated with.”
Bautista went 9-1 with two saves, so he figured directly in 11 of the Falcons’ 20 wins. He beat nine different teams.
He was 6-0 in SPC games and was the South Piedmont Conference Pitcher of the Year.
He was 2-0 in 3A state playoff games, including a tense, 3-2 third-round victory against Forestview.
“That was a very good team that came to play,” Bautista said. “But it was one of those nights when I felt good. I stuck with it. We won.”
Bautista’s lone victory that wasn’t in a league game or playoff game may have been his most impressive. He shut out 4A Hough on three hits in an Easter tournament. Hough was strong. Hough beat Marvin Ridge, the team that beat West Rowan in the fourth round and went on to win the 3A state championship.
Bautista’s super senior season followed sophomore and junior seasons where the breaks seldom went his way.
He was 4-0 at one point as sophomore, but then he lost 3-1 to South Rowan, 2-1 to A.L. Brown, 3-2 in nine innings to Carson, and then 4-2 to Carson in a conference tournament game. He finished 4-4.
Bautista’s 5-5 junior year included a 3-2 loss to nemesis South Rowan and a 2-1 loss to Southeast Guilford in the state playoffs.
But his senior year was a turnaround, especially his stunning stretch run. In his last six pitching appearances, Bautista struck out 25 batters while walking none. He finished with 65 strikeouts, nine walks and a 1.56 ERA.
“I was stronger from preseason weightlifting and I felt confident in my team and in my coaches,” Bautista said. “We played good defense. We scored runs. It was a year where everything worked out.”
There were other notable pitching performances.
Carson freshman Owen White was often spectacular with an 8-2 record and an ERA of 0.85. Salisbury senior Riley Myers was the CCC Pitcher of the Year. He went 5-3 for the Hornets with an ERA of 1.88.
By Adam Houston email@example.com SALISBURY — The foundation for West Rowan’s improvement from a 13-10 season to a 20-7 season... read more