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Struggling East Rowan falls to Robinson, 7-2

By Marny Hendrick

sports@salisburypost.com

GRANITE QUARRY — In the aftermath of a deflating 7-2 home loss to Robinson Wednesday night, acting head coach Brett Hatley reminded his team that East Rowan baseball has always been about winning the fifth, sixth and seventh innings.

“All we have up there on the board is three goose eggs tonight,” Hatley said. “We have got to find a way to compete and to grind. You can’t have four hits and five errors and expect to win.”

In a battle of two teams tied for second in the South Piedmont Conference, the score was knotted at 2-2 heading to the fifth inning. Yet it was the Bulldogs who dominated the final three frames with five runs on six hits while East was going down quietly with just one single.

Holding it all together for Robinson (5-3, 5-2 SPC) was junior right-hander Jason White, who pitched a complete game four-hitter with seven strikeouts and just a single walk. Both Mustang runs were unearned as White (1-0) pitched through four errors by his own team.

“Jason has been very consistent for us this season.” first-year Bulldog coach Ryan Hodges noted. “That was probably the best we have played behind him this season. Offensively, we really got it going tonight and that is what we needed.”

Robinson opened the game with a run off East starter Jake Davis, a freshman southpaw making his second start. Jackson Aldridge led off with a walk then White helped his own cause with a booming double to deep centerfield to make it 1-0. White tried to add another run on a wild pitch but was out at the plate on a diving tag by catcher Trevor Scruggs.

The Mustangs (5-5, 4-3 SPC) looked like they were ready to take control of the game in the third inning, when a trio of Bulldog errors and a sacrifice fly by Chandler Blackwelder tied the score at 1-1. Back-to-back singles by Hayden Setzer and Nathan Hill put East up, 2-1. A walk to Bryce Wagner loaded the bases with two outs but White struck out Matthew Mathis slammed the door on a potential big inning.

It turned out to be the last threat the Mustangs would mount in the game as White got stronger as the game went on.

Robinson tied the score in the fourth on a single by Bryce Vanhook, a sacrifice bunt and a wild pitch. The Bulldogs then chased Davis in the top of the fifth, thanks to a clutch two-out double to the left field corner by Chase Orrock.

The visitors added plenty of insurance off reliever Corbin Moss in the final two frames. In the sixth, Robinson loaded the bases on an error and two singles, then went ahead, 5-2, on a sacrifice fly by White.  Two more Mustang errors in the top of the seventh, plus an RBI-single by Marshall Raper, made it 7-2.

White then closed it out with a ground-out and a pair of strikeouts in the bottom of the seventh.

“We had some unusual things happen out there on defense tonight” Hodges said. “But we bounced back and overcame the adversity. This is one of the toughest baseball conferences in the state, so we know we have bring it each and every time out.”

East will try to right the ship Friday at home when the Mustangs face Central Cabarrus in another SPC battle. Robinson will travel to Landis to take on first-place South Rowan, also on Friday.

NOTE: Veteran East Rowan head coach Brian Hightower missed last night’s game for what Hatley described as “personal reasons.” Hatley declined to offer further details, including how long Hightower may be out of action.

Robinson        1 0 0 1 2 1  2 –  7  9  4

East Rowan           0 0 2 0 0 0  0 – 2 4  5

W – J. White (1-0) L – Davis (0-2)

Leading Hitters –  East: Setzer 2-for-3, Wagner 1-for-2, 2B, Hill 1-for-3. Robinson: Aldridge 2-for-2, Orrock 2-for-4, 2B, 2 RBI, White 1-for-2, 2 RBI.

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