High school baseball: North knocks out Hornets

Published 12:28 am Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Staff report

SALISBURY — Shortstop Trey Johnson happily squeezed the final out, and North Rowan won 5-2, keeping its baseball season alive while ending rival Salisbury’s.

It was the biggest victory of the season for the Cavaliers, who had lost twice to the Hornets to close the regular season last week. Those losses included a 10-0 shellacking on the same field where North found redemption in Monday’s opening round of the Central Carolina Conference Tournament.

Malakie Harris pitched a gritty complete game for the sixth-seeded Cavaliers. He struck out eight, walked five, hit two and allowed four hits. He reached the pitch count limit of 105 as he faced the final batter of the night.

Johnson supplied a high percentage of the offense for the Cavaliers (5-11). He had three of North’s eight hits and scored two runs.

Salisbury’s Evan Koontz also pitched a complete game. He threw 100 pitches, striking out 10 and walking two. At the plate, Koontz had half of third-seeded Salisbury’s hits.

The top of the first was crazy and critical. North scored three times and was able to play downhill the rest of the way.

Johnson began the game with a double, and an infield hit by Carter Boydston put two men on base. After Boydston stole second, a wild pitch plated Johnson and moved Boydston to third.

Harris walked. Boydston scored on a balk. Harris went to second on the balk, advanced to third on a fly ball to right, and then scored on the second balk of the inning.

In the bottom of the first, Hank Webb walked, advanced on a single by Koontz and scored on a line-drive hit with two outs by Landon Tucker to cut North’s lead to 3-1.

Salisbury had three more baserunners in the bottom of the second, but Harris was able to pitch around a walk, a hit batsman and an error and maintain the 3-1 lead.

Koontz struck out Johnson with the bases loaded in the fourth to keep the Hornets’ deficit at 3-1.

The Hornets got within 3-2 in the bottom of the fourth. Mike Geter beat out an infield hit, stole second and third and scored when Koontz grounded a single through the left side.

Koontz struck out the side in the sixth, but Harris also hung another zero on the scoreboard, and the game moved to the seventh.

That’s when the Cavaliers got a lead-off hit from Jaiden Brown, got some help from an error and scored two insurance runs. Harris had the RBI single that made it 5-2.

Then Harris went back to the mound and finished it. He walked Tucker with two outs, but then he settled down and got the 21st out.

The Hornets (8-15) played much better in the second half of the season, but they are 46th in the 2A West RPI rankings and are out of the playoff picture.

The Cavaliers are 36th in the 1A West RPI rankings, so they’ve still got a little hope of making the playoffs if they fall short of winning the CCC tournament.

North’s next game will be on Tuesday night.

The Cavaliers will play at Thomasville’s Finch Field in the tournament semifinals. North will play second-seeded West Davidson in the second game of a doubleheader. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m. North lost 12-3 and 14-2 to the Green Dragons during the regular season.

See photo gallery from game here https://www.salisburypost.com/2023/05/02/photo-gallery-north-rowan-tops-salisbury-5-2-in-baseball-tourney-action/