High school baseball: Turbulent Tuesday in the SPC

Published 4:50 am Wednesday, April 12, 2023


Staff report

None of Tuesday’s three South Piedmont Conference games were run-of-the-mill stuff.

Northwest Cabarrus survived Haiden Leffew and walked off a tense win against South Rowan. West Rowan survived Hayden Simmerson and blanked Carson behind Corbin Bailey in yet another pitching duel.  East Rowan put up multiple touchdowns  — and added the PATs — while roughing up Concord.


East Rowan 21, Concord 0

GRANITE QUARRY — East’s romp against Concord at Staton Field was no shock. East is unbeaten in the SPC, while Concord is winless in the SPC.

East had a 13-run third inning to bury the Spiders (3-12, 0-9).

At the plate, the Mustangs (14-3, 9-0) had a barrel of fun. Morgan Padgett homered. Harrison Ailshie tripled. Blake Hill and Cobb Hightower had two doubles each. Padgett, McCall Henderson and Mason Phelps also doubled, giving East nine extra-base hits. Eleven different Mustangs got hits.

The Mustangs had 22 hits, with Hightower getting four and Hill, Henderson, Padgett and Braden Shive getting three apiece.

After getting 11 hits in two days, Hightower is batting .509 for the season. Padgett has a team-high 25 RBIs.

Dylan Valley (3-0) pitched three innings with three strikeouts to earn the win. Also getting an inning of mound work were Shive and Henderson.


NW Cabarrus 2, South Rowan 1

CONCORD —  South’s Haiden Leffew and Northwest’s Tanner Kaler pitched brilliantly and struck out everyone in sight, but neither wound up with a decision.

Leffew turned in a comparable performance to the monster game he pitched against East Rowan on the night South lost 1-0 to the Mustangs in eight innings.

The Wake Forest signee allowed no earned runs, one hit and two walks in six innings, while striking out a dozen. He had fired 101 pitches after six innings (the limit is 105). South turned to the bullpen in the seventh, and the Trojans strung together three singles to win the game.

South scored a run against Kaler in the first inning. Conner Coy led off with a single and moved to second when Cole Thomas was hit by a pitch. A throwing error on a ground ball hit by Leffew allowed Coy to motor around to score, but Thomas was thrown out at the plate.

Leffew struck out the first two NWC hitters in the fifth, but an error on a ground ball extended the inning, and the Trojans had a fast man on base. Landon Finley stole second, stole third and scored on a passed ball for a 1-all tie.

Kaler struck out 10 and walked one, but he ran into trouble in the top of the seventh. South loaded the bases with no outs on an error, a walk and a hit batsman.

Finley relieved Kaler, who had thrown 99 pitches, and somehow got the Trojans out of that mess. Third baseman Dalton Hazlett fielded a ground ball and got the force at home for the first out. Then Finley struck out the next two.

Facing Marshal Faw in the bottom of the seventh, Blake Gaffney led off with a single. Then the Trojans (10-6, 5-4) executed on a sacrifice bunt.

Finley walked. Zach Helms singled to load the bases. Then Tyler Smith’s ground-ball single through the right side plated the game-winner.

The walk-off victory moved Northwest (10-6, 5-4)  into a tie for third with Carson. South, which beat West Cabarrus 7-2 on Monday, is 7-9 overall and 4-5 in the SPC.


West Rowan 1, Carson 0

CHINA GROVE — Carson ace Hayden Simmerson was outstanding once again, but West Rowan has discovered a surprise ace of its own.

Corbin Bailey missed all of last season with an injury, but he’s 5-0 this season, and he threw his best game on Tuesday, as he matched zeroes on the scoreboard with Simmerson.

Bailey struck out seven, walked four and allowed three hits. He threw a 99-pitch complete game.

Simmerson (4-2) struck out 11, walked one and yielded seven hits. The run West scored was unearned. Simmerson threw 103 pitches.

Matthew Connolly thumped two more doubles for the Falcons (10-5, 7-2), who stayed in second place in the SPC, two games behind East Rowan. Drew Burton had a double. Luke Graham had two hits. He always gets two hits.

Jacob Efird, Cody Russell and Keegan Barger had singles for the Cougars (8-8, 5-4).

There was no score through three innings. Connolly doubled on a line drive to center to start the West fourth. When Drew Burton grounded back to Simmerson, Simmerson threw Connolly out trying to go to third. Catcher’s interference helped Burton move around the bases and he eventually scored on a sacrifice fly to right by Cole Blevins. That would be the only run of the game.

Bailey walked two batters in the fifth, but struck out Simmerson, Carson’s biggest power hitter, to end the threat.

West’s sixth inning began in promising fashion with hits by Connolly and Burton to put runners at second and third with no outs, but Simmerson dug in and kept Carson’s deficit at 1-0. He got back-to-back strikeouts before a fly ball ended the inning.

Bailey’s fourth walk was issued with two outs in the seventh, but coach Seth Graham stayed with him, and he got the final out of the game on a come-backer.

The loss knocked Carson down to a third-place tie with Northwest Cabarrus.

Carson and West will play in Mount Ulla on Friday, with Mikey Beasley on the mound for the Cougars against either Graham or Burton.