South Rowan whips Trojans in SPC baseball

Published 11:49 pm Friday, March 3, 2017

By David Shaw

LANDIS — Someone must have paid the electric bill at South Rowan.

Three days after managing only two hits in a season-opening loss, the Raiders plugged in Friday night and beat visiting Northwest Cabarrus, 9-5, in their SPC opener.

“I liked the fact that we got better offensively,” ninth-year coach Thad Chrismon said, after South (1-1) collected nine hits, four for extra bases. “We took some better swings, had some better approaches and hit some balls really hard.”

None was struck harder — or traveled farther — than the grand slam senior outfielder Chandler Norton crunched in the bottom of the second inning. It came on a room-service fastball from Northwest pitcher Carson Bost and gave South a 4-1 lead.

“With the bases loaded, I was just trying to go back side and get a run in,” said Norton, South’s No. 9 hitter. “But he threw it over the inside half. If he throws it there, you’ve got to go with it.”

Norton drilled the ball over the left-field fence and brought teammates Walker Joyce, Anthony Fox and Garrett Harrington home with him. “Chandler’s been taking some of the best swings in practice over the last week, week-and-a-half,” Chrismon said. “On that pitch, he just caught it right and hit it square. It’s starting to come together for him.”

Bost, a junior right-hander, pitched for the cycle — allowing a single, double, triple and home run in two-plus innings. He walked four, yielded five earned runs and was spelled with South holding a 6-1, third-inning lead.

“He actually did a good job for us,” said Northwest coach Joe Hubbard. “But I don’t think he ever commanded the strike zone. He always seemed to be in a hitter’s count.”

Northwest (0-1) scored the game’s first run without the benefit of a hit against Joyce, the winning pitcher. The Trojans used two walks, two wild pitches and two passed balls to go ahead in the top of the first.

“I’m getting used to a new catcher,” said Joyce, who worked with backstop Tyler Belk. “But the two runs I allowed were both on me.”

Joyce also surrendered a fourth-inning run when Northwest’s Andrew Raffaldt blooped a two-out single into right field. Other than that he was a master moundsman, slinging sidearm fastballs that swept across the outside corner.

In five innings, he allowed three hits and struck out 11, including six straight batters (five on called strikes) in the second and third.

“He has the stuff to do that,” said Chrismon. “It’s just a matter of executing and spacing it out.”

During one stretch, Joyce retired 10 consecutive batters — then got five of the last six he faced before teammate Matthew Donahue relieved in the sixth inning.

“He was effectively wild,” Hubbard said. “But he did the opposite of what (Bost) did. He got ahead in the count, got into pitcher’s counts and pounded the zone.”

Of course, none of it would have mattered without the extra juice South’s lineup provided.

“As long as we start hitting the ball, we’ll be a good team,” Joyce noted. “Like tonight. We were locked in.”

NOTES: South’s Dawson Larrimore led off the bottom of the first with a triple to right, but was stranded. Haydon Wilson (2-for-4) and Fox (2-for-3, 2 runs scored) stroked two-base hits for the Raiders, while Harrington and Austin Chrismon had sacrifice flies. … South plays a non-league makeup game at A.L. Brown (3:00) today and visits Concord on Tuesday. Northwest plays at West Rowan the same day.

NW Cabarrus      100 102 1 — 5   6   3

South Rowan      042 210 x — 9   9   3

W — Joyce (1-0). L — Bost (0-1). HR — C.Norton (1).

Leading hitters — NW Cabarrus: Bost 2-for-4, 2 RS; South Rowan: C.Norton 2-for-3, HR, 4 RBIs.