West Rowan beats Cox Mill 9-4
By Marny Hendrick
GRANITE QUARRY — West Rowan coach Seth Graham says an old coach once told him that the best way to win a ball game is good pitching and three-run homers.
The Falcons got both Monday night at Staton Field and it produced a 9-4 comeback win over Cox Mill. The win puts West (8-6) in the championship game of the East Rowan Spring Break tournament against the host Mustangs tonight at 7 p.m.
After spotting the Chargers a 4-0 lead right out of the gate, West chipped away to get within 4-3 in the top of the fifth. Then a lot electric stuff happened. Zeb Burns led off the inning with a single and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. Mykal Berger then cranked his second triple of the game to right center to tie the game at 4-4.
Cox Mill starter Grant Adcock then issued an intentional walk to Olen Stamper, bringing third baseman Payne Stolsworth to the plate.
“I just felt they walked him (Stamper) because they felt they would have a better chance of getting me out,” Stolsworth said. “So I just tried to square something up. ”
What he got was a fastball right down the middle that he crushed for a line drive three-run home run to dead left. Suddenly the Falcons were up 7-4 and in control.
“That three run homer was definitely the key to this game,” said Graham as he recalled the old coach’s story.
Cox Mill coach John McNeil agreed that he chose to pitch to Stolsworth “because we have had better luck against him this year plus we wanted to make sure we had the ability to turn two if needed,” he said. “Grant (Adcock) wanted the ball there and he has earned that right. But I guess I went with him a little bit too long.”
The Falcons iced the game in the seventh with a couple of big insurance runs thanks to a pair of walks off reliever Carson Burt followed by an RBI single by Cameron Graham. The ninth run crossed on a wild pitch.
The good pitching part of the victory came from the same tandem of Stamper and Stolsworth. Stamper (3-1) shook off the effects of a four-run, five-hit onslaught by the Chargers in the bottom of the first and put up goose eggs the rest of the way on two singles. With one out in the sixth, Stamper reached his pitch limit (101) so Stolsworth came on the finish the game and earn the save.
“I knew if Olen settled in it would give us a chance and that is what he did,” Graham said.
Stamper was greeted by a triple by Justin Fox in the first, followed by four singles to make it 4-0. “I was just pumping fastballs in there,” Stamper said, “and they were sitting on it. After that I was trying to mix my pitches up and things started going my way.”
Stamper went 5.1 innings with 7 strikeouts to earn the win. Stolsworth went the final 1.2 innings, allowing two hits and fanning four including a big strikeout of Jacob Garton to leave the bases loaded in the sixth.
The loss dropped Cox Mill to 10-3 for the season, with two of those losses coming to West Rowan. The Chargers will face South Piedmont conference foe Central Cabarrus at 1 p.m. this afternoon for third place in the Spring Break event.
The title match at at Staton Filed tonight pits West against East for the second year in a row under the current tournament format. The Mustangs (9-4) beat West 6-1 back on March 20 in a North Piedmont league game but this meeting will be just as intense.
“We will play to win it like we do every game,” Falcon coach Graham said. “I expect it will be a great game with a good crowd on hand.”
West Rowan 002 140 2 — 9 8 1
Cox Mill 400 000 0 — 4 9 1
WP — Stamper (3-1). SAVE – Stolsworth (1), LP — Adcock (3-1). HR — Stolsworth (1)
Leading hitters — West Rowan: Berger 3-for-4, 2 triples, 3 RBIs; Burns 2-for-3, ; Stolsworth 1-for-4, 3 RBIs. Cox Mill: Alderfer 3-for-4, Rubenstein 1-for-4, 2 RBIs; Fox 1-for-4, triple.