High school baseball: Mustangs to compete for state title, state record for wins

Published 2:50 pm Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Staff report

GRANITE QUARRY — East Rowan’s baseball team will play in the 3A State Championships on Friday and Saturday at Ting Stadium in Holly Springs.

Holly Springs is about 18 miles southwest of Raleigh.

First pitch on Friday is scheduled for 5 p.m. Game 2 on Saturday is scheduled for 11 a.m.

A third game, if needed, would be played later on Saturday.

Coached by Brett Hatley, the Mustangs (32-2) have set a county record for wins in a season. The 2010 East team coached by Brian Hightower finished 31-2.

East Rowan has tied the 2004 East Rutherford team for the most NCHSAA wins in a season.

East won NCHSAA championships in 1995 and 2010 and was state runner-up in 2008, so this is the fourth time on the biggest stage for the Mustangs.

The Mustangs also won championships in the Western North Carolina High School Activities Association in 1968, 1970 and 1972 and had runner-up WNCHSAA finishes in 1962, 1964  and 1966.

All the Mustangs have been productive, and East’s Cobb Hightower, Harrison Ailshie and McCall Henderson, the 3-4-5 hitters, are having epic offensive seasons.

Hightower, a UNC recruit who plays shortstop, is batting .458 with nine homers, 45 RBIs and 60 runs scored.

The 60 runs scored appear to be a state record. The NCHSAA lists the previous record at 59.

Ailshie, a sophomore, is batting .417 with nine homers, 49 RBIs and 47 runs scored.

Henderson is batting .453 with seven homers and 56 RBIs. According to the NCHSAA record book, that’s one of the 10 best RBI seasons of all-time in the state.

East will likely pitch Ailshie (10-0) on Friday, with Catawba recruit Logan Dyer (11-0) taking the mound for the second game.

Joe Burleyson (5-0), another Catawba recruit, is the third starter.

South Central (24-4) is from Winterville, near Greenville.

This is South Central’s first trip to the 3A State Championships.

Mason Hobbs, a .500-hitter, leads South Central’s offense. He has three homers and 27 RBIs and has scored 43 runs.

Christian Chance is batting .394 with three homers and 26 RBIs.

Freshman Brody Brannon is batting .439.

Chance, a junior, is the mound ace. He’s 10-2. Freshman Justin Blow is 7-1 on the mound.

South Central made history in the 3A East Regional series by hitting three grand slams in a 17-1 victory. Chance, Hobbs and Tyce Thompson connected against Terry Sanford.