High school baseball: Season ends for Mustangs

Published 12:32 am Monday, May 22, 2023


Staff report

HENDERSONVILLE — West Henderson ended West Rowan’s football season and made it a double play by knocking out East Rowan baseball.

Truitt Manuel, a West Henderson three-sport junior who is committed to N.C. State for baseball, made clutch catches that hurt West Rowan last fall and made another one that hurt the Mustangs in Round 4 of the 3A state playoffs.

West Henderson beat East 5-4 on Friday in a back-and-forth game the Mustangs led a couple of times. The winning run scored for West Henderson on a wild pitch in the bottom of the seventh.

Manuel was on the mound when the game started, locking horns with East Rowan senior Morgan Padgett.

Tenth-seeded East (23-6) got on the board quickly. Logan Dyer, Cobb Hightower and Blake Hill had first-inning singles for a 1-0 lead.

Third-seeded West Henderson tied it in the bottom of the first on a sacrifice fly.

East took advantage of defensive mistakes to inch back ahead 2-1 in the top of the second.

West Henderson scored two in the bottom of the second on two more sacrifice flies. There was some sensational situational hitting by the home team.

East got even at 3-all in the top of the third on Hill’s double and a two-out single by Braden Shive.

In the fifth, the Mustangs went on top 4-3 on another hit by Hightower and another double by Hill.

Dyer relieved Padgett in the bottom of the fifth and held the 4-3 lead.

Manuel’s night on the mound was done after the fifth — East make him work, 107 pitches — so he headed to right field, with Nicky Stanko taking over pitching duties.

West Henderson tied the  game in the bottom of the sixth on a throwing error.

Two walks gave East a chance to score in the top of the seventh, but Manuel was able to run down Shive’s drive for the third out. He was in the right place at the right time.

Alex Anderson started the bottom of the seventh with a double off the center-field wall for West Henderson, and the Mustangs were in trouble. Manuel was intentionally walked before a pair of wild pitches scored  Anderson with the deciding run.

Hightower hit .515 for the season, while Hill batted .512.

West Henderson advances to the best-of-3 Western Championship Series against 13th-seeded Oak Grove.