High school baseball roundup: Rowan squads go 3-for-3 in first round

Published 3:18 am Wednesday, May 10, 2023

From staff reports

GRANITE QUARRY — Only one South Piedmont Conference baseball team lost on Tuesday in the first round of the 3A state playoffs.

That was Lake Norman Charter. East Rowan had to knock out the LNC Knights, a fellow SPC member, in a struggle at Staton Field.

East won 5-0, but the Mustangs, who scored a run in the second, were clinging to a 1-0 lead for a long time before they scored four runs in the sixth to get some breathing room.

Chance Mako (7-0) got back on track for East after three straight pitching outings that weren’t up to his usual standards. Mako didn’t lose any decisions, but walks hurt him in a pivotal game East dropped against West Rowan, while Northwest Cabarrus and South Rowan swung the bats with surprising authority against the tall right-hander in games that East was able to win.

But he was back to being Mako, the potential high draft pick, on Tuesday, when the Mustangs needed him to be that take-charge guy. It was a dominant 95-pitch complete game — 12 strikeouts, two hits, one walk. It was Mako’s first win since April 10.

Mako and Lake Norman Charter standout Jacob Dudan are both N.C. State recruits. East finally got to Dudan in the sixth, but he turned in a strong effort — seven strikeouts, one walk.

Matthew Makowski had both hits for the Knights.

Cobb Hightower, Braden Shive and McCall Henderson supplied most of the offense for the Mustangs. Hightower had two hits and scored a run. Shive and Henderson had two hits and two RBIs.

Mako, who has swung the bat quite well lately, knocked in a run to help himself.

While 23rd-seeded LNC finished 13-10, 10th-seeded East (21-5) plays on.

East was expected to hit the road for Round 2 but will get to play at Staton Field again Friday because Asheboro, seeded 26th, won at seventh-seeded Enka.

Asheboro (13-11) roughed up Enka 13-7 by getting 16 hits, including homers by Tanner Marsh and Adam Curry.


GIBSONVILLE — Carson’s first inning just kept going and going and going.

Thirteen Cougars marched to the plate in the top of the first at Eastern Guilford, and when the smoke cleared, the Cougars owned nine runs.

With a nine-run cushion and with Hayden Simmerson pitching, Carson’s win probability was in the 99.9 percent range.

Theoretically, the 27th-seeded Cougars were underdogs, but they routed sixth-seeded Eastern Guilford (18-7), a conference champ, in a five-inning game.

The lopsided final was 13-0.

Lead-off man Cameron Burleyson got on base twice in the first inning. He was hit by a pitch and walked. Will Bradshaw had a walk and a sacrifice fly in the first. Jacob Efird, Austin Efird and Emory Taylor had run-scoring singles. Simmerson capped the huge inning with the two-run double that made it 9-0.

After that, all the Catawba recruit had to do was throw strikes, and he always does that.  Simmerson (7-2) pitched four innings and threw 60 pitches. He allowed two hits and struck out six.

Corbin Hales pitched the fifth for the Cougars (13-11).

Bradshaw walloped a two-run homer in the fifth, as the Cougars put the home team to bed early.

Cody Russell had two hits and three RBIs. Bradshaw, Simmerson, Keegan Barger  and Jacob Efird had two hits each.

As the fifth inning began, the long-ago Doobie Brothers hit “China Grove” boomed over the loudspeakers. Whether that was coincidence or a salute to the Cougars is unknown.

Carson heads to 11th-seeded Kings Mountain (18-5) for Round 2.  Kings Mountain beat Stuart Cramer 7-2.


MOUNT ULLA — West Rowan survived 2-0 against upset-minded Franklin, the No. 29 seed, in a first round game in the 3A state playoffs.

The fourth-seeded Falcons managed to scratch out runs in the second and sixth, but Franklin pitcher Josiah Hursey pitched into the sixth inning and  limited the Falcons to five hits.

West got another great mound outing from Corbin Bailey (7-0), who struck out six and walked none in six innings. Bailey turned in an efficient, 63-pitch gem.

Luke Graham handled the seventh inning, allowing one hit, and recorded his fourth save.

West scored with the help of an error in the second inning. Zach McNeely crossed the plate. Nate Green got the run home with an infield out.

Another error helped the Falcons score in the sixth. Cole Blevins singled to start that inning. He scored on McNeely’s sacrifice fly.

West had baserunners in every inning, but Franklin had three double plays to keep the game tight and tense.  Graham and Elijah Palmer had doubles, but the Falcons couldn’t get them home.

Davis Anders had two of Franklin’s three hits.

Next for West is 13th-seeded Oak Grove, which hammered East Lincoln 8-0 behind the shutout pitching of Jarred Lindholm and Dawson Shelton.

The Grizzlies are 15-9. They tied North Davidson for second place in the Mid-Piedmont Conference.

That game will be played in Mount Ulla on Friday.


WEST JEFFERSON — The biggest obstacle for Northwest Cabarrus turned out to be the long drive to the mountains.

The Trojans led all the way and clobbered eighth-seeded Ashe County 13-2 in a first-round game in the 3A playoffs.

Dalton Hazlett pitched a complete game with five strikeouts. Northwest (14-9) got three hits from Blake Gaffney and a monster game from Tyler Smith, who had two doubles and a single and drove in five runs.

Ashe County finished 12-11. Ashe County’s lofty seeding — ahead of East Rowan, among others — was the product of being the best 3A in a split 3A/4A league.

Next for the Trojans is a trip to Olin to play 24th-seeded North Iredell.

North Iredell (13-11) knocked out ninth-seeded Parkwood 9-7.

Parkwood tied for second in a split 2A/3A league, but was seeded as a conference champ by virtue of being the top 3A in that league.


Greater Metro Conference champ Hickory Ridge advanced in the 4A state playoffs by smashing Southwest Guilford 14-2.

The fourth-seeded Bulls got homers from Caden Haywood and Gavin Baucom. Baucom’s blast was a grand slam.

Mooresville lost 14-2 to Weddington, while Lake Norman fell 16-0 to top-seeded TC Roberson.


Seventh-seeded East Davidson beat East Burke 10-0 in the first round of the 2A state playoffs.

West Davidson, seeded 30th, lost 4-0 to East Surry.


Thomasville lost 6-2 to Draughn and South Davidson fell 7-1 to North Stokes in the 1A playoffs.