High school playoffs: Crainshaw’s blast lifts Raiders; East, Carson win on road

Published 11:50 pm Thursday, May 12, 2022

From staff reports

Rowan County baseball went 3-for-3 in 3A playoff games on Wednesday,.

East Rowan shortstop Cobb Hightower was even better than that. He was 4-for-4.

South Rowan got another humongous three-run homer, this one from pitcher Carson Crainshaw. His fourth-inning blast propelled the top-seeded Raiders to a 6-1 victory over No. 17 seed South Point.

South Rowan (24-4) broke the school record for victories that had stood since 1996 and now prepares for the third round, a fourth meeting with ninth-seeded East Rowan. South has won two out of three, including the South Piedmont Conference Tournament championship game.

Hightower was hot at the plate, Aiden Schenck launched his fourth homer, and Chance Mako dominated on the mound with 12 strikeouts as East improved to 25-4 with few issues. The Mustangs took charge early. and thumped Enka 8-1.

The surprise was Carson (18-10). The 14th-seeded Cougars won at No. 3 Kings Mountain in a tense game. The Cougars got excellent pitching from the combination of Mikey Beasley and Casey Crawford to advance. Carson plays at 11th-seeded East Lincoln next week.

South Rowan 6, South Point 1

There were some anxious moments early as Cooper Ray took Crainshaw (8-0) deep in the top of the third to give the visitors the lead.

South got that run back in the bottom of the inning on a two-out RBI by Nathan Chrismon.

South center fielder Kane Kepley caught a line drive to keep it 1-all in the top of the fourth.

The bottom of the fourth began with singles by Jacob Ritchie and Haiden Leffew. That set the table for Crainshaw, who walloped the first pitch he saw for his first homer of the season. It proved to be a decisive blow.

Crainshaw pitched four innings, struck out seven and walked none.

South Point (15-8) put two men on with walks in the fifth, but a caught stealing and a groundout ended the threat, and South Rowan rolled from there.

Leffew took over on the mound for the top of the fifth and pitched the rest of the game for his first save. Leffew also pounded a two-run triple for South’s last two runs.

Leffew had two of South’s six hits.

•••

East Rowan 8, Enka 1

ENKA — East Rowan took charge right away in its road game at eighth-seeded Enka. Hightower led off the game with a hit, and Schenk doubled in a first-inning run.

East accepted six walks in the second inning, including an intentional pass to Schenk and scored three runs to go ahead 4-0.

Hightower and Tristan Miller had hits in the third inning, as the Mustangs pushed their lead to 6-0.

Enka scored an unearned run in the bottom of the third to get back to 6-1, but Schenck led off the fourth with a homer to get that run right back.

Mako (8-1) pitched six innings, struck out 12 and walked two. He allowed two hits.

Mako threw 104 pitches. Logan Dyer pitched the seventh and logged two strikeouts.

East had nine hits, including the four by Hightower. Schenck and Tristan Miller had  two.

Everyone in the lineup scored or drove in a run.

•••

Carson 3, Kings Mountain 2

Carson got a strong start from Beasley. He didn’t figure in the decision, but he gave the Cougars a chance.

Carson trailed 1-0 until the fifth when the Cougars took advantage of Kings Mountain miscues to tie the game.

Casey Crawford relieved Beasley with the Cougars facing a two-on, two-out jam in the fifth, and he got a groundout to keep the game at 1-all.

A line-drive double play off the bat of Jordan King ended the top of the sixth.

Kings Mountain had a lead-off double to start the bottom of the inning, but Crawford got the third out on a groundball to second baseman Hunter Burris with runners at second and third.

Samuel Safrit’s one-out single started Carson’s winning rally in the seventh.  With two outs, Burris doubled to put runners at second and third. After a walk loaded the bases, Emory Taylor hit a hard groundball past shortstop to score two runs.

Crawford (4-4) made things exciting in the bottom of the seventh with two strikeouts and two walks. He got the final out the Cougars needed on a liner that was caught by center fielder Keegan Barger.

•••

Ledford 9, NW Cabarrus 3

Second-seeded Ledford eliminated Northwest Cabarrus.

The Panthers had a three-run first and were able to play from in front. They secured victory with  five-run fifth.

Landon Finley and Blake Gaffney had two hits for the Trojans.

 

SOFTBALL

Softball didn’t go as well for the Rowan teams.

Carson finished the season with a 12-2 loss at second-seeded Crest (23-2).

Seniors Abbey Nixon and Allie Burns drove in runs early for the Cougars, who took a 2-1 lead to the fourth inning.

But Crest scored seven runs in the fourth.

•••

East Rowan lost 4-0 to top-seeded and undefeated East Lincoln (23-0).

East Lincoln’s Leah Correll pitched a one-hitter with five strikeouts.

Taniyah Thomas had two RBIs.

Senior Tiffin Jacobs had the only hit for East Rowan. East Rowan hit a lot of balls hard, but didn’t find holes.

Senior Mac Misenheimer made three diving catches to spark the defense.

•••

Fourth-seeded Mooresville won a thriller against Piedmont.

Campbell Schaen pitched brilliantly to keep Mooresville in the game. It was still 0-0 after seven innings.

Piedmont broke through for a run in the top of the eighth, but with the Blue Devils down to their last strike, Bentli Meadows delivered a two-run single for a 2-1 victory.

•••

West Rowan plays at Central Cabarrus at 6 p.m. tonight.

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