High school baseball: West finishes SPC at 12-2; East wins a tough one; Carson falls in extras; Hornets beat North
Published 3:00 am Wednesday, April 26, 2023
From staff reports
LANDIS — West Rowan’s baseball team did it again on Tuesday.
The Falcons beat South Rowan 6-1 on the road and will either take the South Piedmont Conference outright or will tie for first, depending on the outcome of East Rowan’s game at Northwest Cabarrus on Wednesday.
West swept the Mustangs (17-5, 11-2), so the Falcons are assured of getting the SPC’s best seed for the 3A state playoffs.
West (16-5, 12-2) has won 12 out of 13 and won its last 10 South Piedmont Conference games, including sweeps of Carson, East and South.
Brant Graham (winner, five innings) and Drew Burton got the job done on the mound for the Falcons.
South banged out 10 hits, but Graham and Burton got the key outs, and the Raiders (7-14, 4-10), who dropped their last nine SPC outings, stranded 13 baserunners.
South pitchers Marshal Faw and Cole Thomas, who relieved Faw in the second inning, were able to cool off Cole Blevins, but West still had plenty of offense. Luke Graham and Burton had three hits each, while Matthew Connolly had two hits and two RBIs. Brice Knox had two hits and scored a run.
West took charge right away with a three-run first. Luke Graham singled and Connolly doubled in front of a two-run double by Burton. Burton scored on a hit by Luke Ponczka.
South loaded the bases in the bottom of the first, but Brant Graham got a groundout to end the threat.
The Raiders left two on base in the second and two more in the third.
Luke Graham singled home a run in the fourth for a 4-0 West lead.
In the sixth, Knox and Nate Greene had singles, and Connolly’s two-out single pushed the Falcons’ advantage to 6-0.
South got on the board in the seventh with two walks and a run-scoring hit by Conner Coy,
Coy, Faw and Thomas had two hits each for the Raiders.
West is fifth in the 3A West RPI rankings. East Rowan is fourth.
GRANITE QUARRY — With Chance Mako on the mound for East Rowan and Tanner Kaler pitching for Northwest Cabarrus, a 1-0 duel seemed more likely than a 9-8 roller coaster, but baseball frequently provides the unexpected.
The Mustangs found a way to win a wild one and got back in the victory column after back-to-back deflating losses to West Rowan.
“We had a tough week with West and not much of anything went our way,” East coach Brett Hatley said. “But there’s a lot of baseball left to be played and we’ve got to keep grinding. We fought and won a great, back-and-forth ballgame tonight and we did it in a playoff .atmosphere. It was a game to watch. Hats off to Northwest. They swung the bats better than we expected them to do and they hit Chance. They had more hits than we did.”
East scored three runs in the bottom of the second. Logan Dyer’s single and steal got it started. Cobb Hightower, Blake Hill and McCall Henderson had RBI singles.
Henderson had another RBI single in the third inning, and the Mustangs took a 4-2 lead to the fourth. That’s when the game swung Northwest’s way. The Trojans had three hits, a walk and two HBPs in the inning, scored three itmes and took a 5-4 lead. Zach Helms had a two-run double.
East came right back with a four-run bottom of the fourth to grab an 8-5 lead. The Mustangs took advantage of walks and errors, and Hightower came through with another run-scoring single.
When the Northwest fifth began with two hits, Mako’s night was over — 82 pitches, seven runs, nine hits, five strikeouts, one walk.
Dyer relieved Mako at that point. It got worse for the Mustangs before it got better. Landon Finley tripled and scored the run that made it 8-all on a hit by Helms.
Dyer got East through the fifth and had a 1-2-3 sixth.
In the bottom of the sixth, East loaded the bases on Morgan Padgett’s single, an error and a walk before Braden Shive was hit by a pitch with two men out to force home a go-ahead run.
Dyer walked the lead-off batter in the NWC seventh, but he got a strikeout before Helms hit a line drive that Hill, East’s third baseman, snagged and doubled the runner off first base to end the game.
HUNTERSVILLE — Carson has one heck of a 10-10 team, but suffered another painful loss on Tuesday.
The Cougars fell 4-3 at Lake Norman Charter, which pulled out its Senior Night game in eight innings.
Hayden Simmerson had another well-pitched no decision. He threw seven innings with six strikeouts and one walk. He allowed five hits and no earned runs.
Corbin Hales took the loss in the eighth, as Carson dropped to 7-6 in the SPC.
Carson had only four hits, but Jacob Efird and Will Bradshaw had doubles. Daniel Savage and Simmerson knocked in runs.
Carson built a 3-0 lead after four innings.
The Knights (13-6, 9-4) began a comeback in the fifth, scoring twice, including a homer by No. 9 hitter Grady White.
The Knights scored the tying run in the seventh, and Ian Hart’s groundball got the winner home in the eighth.
N.C. State recruit Jacob Dudan pitched five innings for LNC. Senior Logan Wilson pitched the last three and earned the win.
SPENCER — In Central Carolina Conference action, Salisbury topped rival North Rowan 6-4.
It went down to the last pitch. North had the tying runs on base in the seventh when Evan Koontz got a strikeout to end the game.
Hank Webb, who struck out eight in six innings, was the winning pitcher. Koontz earned a save.
The Hornets (7-14, 5-6) had seven hits, with Webb and Mike Geter getting two each. Geter had a double.
The Cavaliers (4-10, 3-8) had four hits. Breaden Castor had two.
Geter had an infield hit to start the game and scored on Webb’s double. Webb stole third and scored on a passed ball to make it 2-0.
Webb and Aiden Mowery had infield hits in the third inning, as the Hornets took a 4-0 lead
Trey Johnson had a hit in the third inning, as the Cavaliers scored twice and cut Salisbury’s lead in half.
Jackson Sparger’s infield hit got a run home in the fourth for a 5-2 Saliisbury lead, and Landon Tucker delivered a sac fly in the fifth to make it 6-2.
North’s seventh began with a hit batsman and a walk, and Koontz relieved Webb. An error helped North make it 6-3 and Carter Boydston’s RBI single made it 6-4, but Koontz was able to finish off the Cavs.
They’ll play again on Wednesday at Salisbury.