West Rowan blanks Warriors in Easter baseball tourney
By Marny Hendrick
GRANITE QUARRY — Junior right-hander Cullen Davis effectively scattered six singles and enjoyed the benefit of a seven-run second inning by his West Rowan offense, as the Falcons blanked West Iredell, 11-0, here Monday morning.
The win came in the consolation round of the East Rowan Easter baseball tournament at Staton Field, as the Falcons improved to 14-6 for the season. West Rowan wraps up the tournament today at 4 p.m., in the fifth place game, versus the winner of Forest Hills and Central Cabarrus. West Iredell (6-14) plays at 10 a.m. today in the seventh place contest, against the Forest Hills-Central Cabarrus loser.
Davis (5-2) allowed the six hits, struck out five and walked just one in a complete game effort that was halted after five innings by the 10-run rule. Davis said he had trouble with his curveball early on, but was able to settle down and shut down the Warriors.
“My curveball was just not working for me at the beginning,” Davis said, “So, I started getting out front and burying it so I could get it down. Finally, I found it.”
The Falcons gave Davis plenty of time to adjust, with a big seven-run second inning off Warrior starter Eli Kitchens. After going up 1-0 in the bottom of the first with an unearned run, West Rowan sent 11 batters to the plate in the second, expanding the margin to 8-0 on four singles, two walks, a hit batter and a critical dropped fly ball. Jake Perez drove in a run with a single, then Daniel Sell laid down a perfect bunt single to load the bases. Second baseman Steven Smith followed with a sharp single to left, scoring two more runs.
Catcher J.T. Fecteau singled to make the score 5-0, followed by a wild pitch that scored Smith from third base. The onslaught was capped by a fly to deep left by Cameron Graham that was mishandled, bringing in two more runs and the 8-0 lead.
“They (West Iredell) helped us out on some mistakes but we still hit the ball hard and played good defense today,” said Falcons’ coach Seth Graham. “That was what impressed me the most — our defense.”
West Rowan played error-free defense while the Warriors were charged with three miscues that all led to runs.
“We just didn’t come with any energy today,” said veteran West Iredell coach Randy Martin. “We made too many mistakes and West Rowan is such a good baseball team. We knew coming in that we would have to play almost perfect to beat those guys, anyway.”
Davis and the Falcons faced their biggest challenge in the top of the fourth inning, when West Iredell produced one-out singles by Will Godfrey, Colby McHargue and Kitchens. The Falcons caught Godfrey off second base after McHargue’s single for the second out. Davis then slammed the door with a clutch full-count strikeout of Gavin Williams to maintain the shutout.
“We were trying to use the pitches that were working best for him,” catcher Fecteau said, of the big strikeout to end the fourth. “We were able to work out of the situation we had created for ourselves. Other than a couple of pitches that weren’t exactly where he wanted them, Davis was in control today.”
The Falcons settled the game in the fourth inning with three runs off three different Warriors pitchers to make the score 11-0. After two walks and a fielder’s choice, West Iredell reliever McHargue hit consecutive batters to make it 9-0. Reliever Gavin Broom came on and gave up a deep single to left field by Davis to make it 10-0. On the same play, Davis was caught in a pickle between first and second, but Graham alertly scrambled home to increase the margin to 11-0.
Davis went out in the top of the fifth and closed the game with a ground out and fly-out, despite a single by Gabriel Kitchen.
“Today I felt pretty good out there,” Davis said. “I haven’t really had it the past few games, but I came out today and I just felt it.”
After today’s fifth-place game in the East Rowan tournament against Central Cabarrus, West Rowan will turn its attention to the North Piedmont Conference Tournament, which the Falcons will host, beginning April 29. Following that will be an expected berth in the state 3A playoffs.
West Iredell 000 00 — 0 6 3
West Rowan 170 3x — 11 6 0
WP — Davis (5-2). LP — E. Kitchens (3-3).
Leading hitters — West Iredell: Six players with one hit each. West Rowan: Smith 1-for-3, 2 runs, 2 RBI; Davis, 1-for-2, 1 RBI; Fecteau 1-for-2, 1 RBI; Perez 1-for-3, 1 RBI.
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