High school baseball: East, Carson, West win

Published 3:50 am Thursday, April 27, 2023


From staff reports

CONCORD — East Rowan finished the baseball regular season strong on the road, pounding 14 hits to beat Northwest Cabarrus 10-0.

East (18-5, 12-2) tied West Rowan for first place in the South Piedmont Conference, so it’s officially it’s a co-championship for the Mustangs despite being swept late in the season by West Rowan.

West Rowan will get the nod over East for things such as being seeded No. 1 for the upcoming league tournament and the Falcons will be seeded better than the Mustangs for the 3A state playoffs, even though East still has a slight edge over the Falcons when it comes to the 3A West RPI rankings. As the teams go into the SPC tournament, East is fourth in those rankings, while West is fifth.

Morgan Padgett pitched into the seventh inning for East, struck out four, walked one and did a great job of scattering seven hits. Dylan Valley gave up two hits and got the last two outs on a line-drive double play.

East didn’t hit any homers, but had doubles by Cobb Hightower, McCall Henderson and Chance Mako.

Hightower went 3-for-5 and had three run-scoring hits. Logan Dyer, Nate Hayworth, Henderson, Mako and Padgett had two hits each.

An error helped East take a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Henderson’s two-out hit in the third inning made it 2-0. Hightower singled in a run in the fourth for a 3-0 lead.

East broke it open with a four-run fifth. Mako’s RBI double made it 4-0. Joe Burleyson bunted a run home before Dyer and Hightower produced RBI singles.

It was a seven-inning game, as the Mustangs didn’t achieve a 10-run lead until the top of the seventh. East got three in the seventh. Hightower singled one home. Hayworth hit a sac fly. One run scored on an error.

Terry Kaler had two hits for the Trojans (13-8, 8-6), who finished in a tie for fourth with Carson.

Carson and Northwest will play Tuesday in the first round of the South Piedmont Conference Tournament. Deciding who is 4 and who is 5 for the tournament and where that game will be played will require a coin flip or drawing as Northwest and Carson split and  fared identically against every team in the league.

East will be the No. 2 seed for the tournament, but will be the host team for the event. East will have a first-round bye and would play the winner of Tuesday’s 3 vs. 6 game (South Rowan at Lake Norman Charter) in the semifinals at Staton Field.


CHINA GROVE — No one really wants to draw Carson as a first-round opponent in the state playoffs because pitcher Hayden Simmerson should give the Cougars a chance against anyone in the first round.

Carson hasn’t had many routine wins when Simmerson didn’t pitch, but the Cougars were able to win 5-3 against Lake Norman Charter on Wednesday’s Senior Night with Mikey Beasley, Casey Crawford and Corbin Hales getting the job done on the mound.

Beasley, a crafty lefty, was credited with the win. He put up zeroes for four innings as the Cougars built a 4-0 lead against the Knights (13-7, 9-5), who finished third and had the distinction of sweeping West Rowan .

Crawford relieved and got the Cougars (11-10, 8-6) out of a fifth-inning jam. Hales was able to close it out.

Carson only got his six hits, but made them count.

Daniel Savage had two hits, including a triple. He drove in two and scored one.

Will Bradshaw had a double. Austin Efird had a hit that drove in his twin brother, Jacob.

Carson knows it will play Northwest Cabarrus in the 4 vs. 5 first-round tournament game on Tuesday, but the venue is TBA.


MOUNT ULLA — It was non-conference, but West Rowan wanted to keep its considerable momentum going and did so with a challenging 7-5 win against Lake Norman.

West had seven hits . Seven different players got one.

West built a 5-0 lead early. After Lake Norman (9-14) fought back for a 5-all tie, the Falcons scored two decisive runs in the bottom of the sixth.

Luke Graham, Matthew Connolly and Drew Burton scored two runs each.

Cole Blevins had a triple, while Luke Ponczka had a double.

Alex O’Rourke pitched four innings as West built a lead. Eli Graham pitched a good fifth, and Lucas Graham pitched the final two innings, allowing one run. He got credit for the win.

West scored three times in the bottom of the first. Luke Graham and Connolly singled. Graham scored on a wild pitch. Cole Blevins hit a sacrifice fly for a 2-0 lead, and Zach McNeely’s two-out RBI single made it 3-0.

In the third, Burton singled home Connolly and Luke Ponczka had a double to drive in Burton for a 5-0 lead.

Lake Norman scored four runs in the fourth and got one more in the sixth to make it 5-all.

In the bottom of the sixth, West (17-5) had two outs and no one on base when Brice Knox singled to trigger the winning rally. Luke Graham walked. After the runners moved up on a steal, both scored on an error.

Luke Graham walked a batter with two outs in the seventh, but got the final out on an infield popup.

The Falcons will take an eight-game winning streak into the SPC tourney. Only the top six made the tournament. West will enjoy a first-round bye and will play the Carson-Northwest Cabarrus winner in a semifinal at Staton Field.