High school baseball: Two Mustangs share Snider Award

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 15, 2024

Harrison Ailshie pitches. Photo Credit: Sean Meyers


By Mike London

GRANITE QUARRY — On a June night 13 years ago, Patrick Snider’s No. 7 was retired to a permanent resting place on the right-field wall at Newman Park.

It was a memorable game, not because Rowan County won a 4-3 American Legion baseball struggle against rival South Rowan, but because Snider was honored for all time and because one of his Legion teammates, Andy Austin, stepped forward to sing the national anthem. Newman Park was packed and buzzing, but the only sound that could be heard for two minutes was the tenor’s voice, as powerful and mournful as a bugle blowing “Taps.”

“You’re teammates with a guy, and then he’s gone,” Austin said after adding two doubles to his inspired vocal effort. “We’ve had a year to get over it now, but Patrick is still in our hearts, and it’s still emotional. I wanted to do everything I could to respect his family and to honor Patrick’s memory.”

Austin was the first baseman for East Rowan’s 2010 3A state champions.

Time marches on. Another East Rowan team won a state championship this year.

Many of the boys of summer who gathered at Newman Park the night Snider’s Jersey was retired have celebrated their 30th birthdays now, but Snider, a North Rowan pitcher who died at 17 after a courageous, seven-month fight with cancer, hasn’t been forgotten by any of his teammates or coaches.

Gary Ritchie, the China Grove barbecue baron, stepped forward in a different way from Austin in 2011, but he nonetheless made a noble gesture. He was the first person who was asked to sponsor a Patrick Snider Memorial Award, to be given to the Rowan County Pitcher of the Year.

The Post never had to ask a second person. Ritchie always has been a friend of baseball.

Ritchie has cheerfully written an annual check to the local Trophy House for a handsome award every year since 2011, even in 2017 when the two Owens — Carson’s Owen White and East’s John Owen — were co-winners, and two trophies were needed.

This year, the Post announces co-winners for the second time in the award’s proud history. For the first time, they are teammates.

East had an extraordinary season (34-2) and got superb pitching efforts from two players — sophomore left-hander Harrison Ailshie and senior right-hander Logan Dyer.

East head coach Brett Hatley advocated both being recognized, and it’s hard to argue. Two undefeated pitchers with double-figure wins is highly unusual.

In 2023, East’s 23-6 team was carried on the mound by college-bound seniors Chance Mako (N.C. State) and Morgan Padgett (UNC Pembroke). Dyer, who was 3-3, and Ailshie, who was 0-1 as a freshman, had limited mound roles, but both exploded — in a good way — in 2024. Give Hatley and pitching coach Ethan Free a lot of credit for that.

Ailshie went 10-0 with a 1.57 ERA in 15 appearances. He struck out 79 in 71 innings.

Ailshie was the South Piedmont Conference Pitcher of the Year, an award based exclusively on regular-season league games, and the coaches who voted on the award got it right. There wasn’t any doubt Ailshie was considered East’s ace during the regular season. He pitched six scoreless innings in the 3-2 victory against West Rowan, a very important early game for the Mustangs. He did most of the pitching for East in both games against a good Carson team. He had a win against Lake Norman Charter, which turned out to be the league’s second-best team. He shut out a dangerous South Rowan team for six innings.

Alshie’s 10th and final win of the season came with five shutout innings in the third-round playoff victory against Central Davidson.

Ailshie continued to pitch effectively in two huge games after that, although he didn’t get a decision — Game 1 of the Western Championship Series with Tuscola (Ailshie left with the lead, but the Mustangs lost in the seventh) and Game 1 of the 3A State Championship Series against South Central (East won in the ninth on an Ailshie RBI).

Dyer finished 12-0 with a 1.44 ERA in 17 appearances. He struck out 76 in 63 innings.

Dyer almost always gets better throughout the course of a game, and his season followed a similar progression.

Coming off labrum surgery, he was often described as a bulldog by Hatley, and he was chewing up opponents by May.

Dyer was strong in the fourth-round playoff win against Oak Grove.

When East traveled to Tuscola down 1-0 in the Western Championship Series, with lots of dreams hanging by a thread, Dyer pitched a complete game to get the series back to Staton Field, where Joe Burleyson and the Mustangs knocked out the Mountaineers.

In the second game of the 3A State Championship Series, Dyer settled in after a slow start and pitched East to the victory that capped a storybook season.

Dyer, a Catawba recruit, was the postseason ace for the Mustangs.

Both Ailshie, the left fielder when he didn’t pitch, and Dyer, usually East’s second baseman, were outstanding two-way players.

Here’s one final stat that will provide an idea of just how close the pitching seasons for Ailshie and Dyer were.

Dyer allowed 38 hits and 31 walks. That’s 69 base runners. Ailshie allowed 50 hits and 19 walks. That’s 69 base runners.

Dyer and Ailshie — co-aces and co-winners of the Patrick Snider Memorial Award.


Patrick Snider Memorial Award — Rowan County Pitcher of the Year
2011 — Bradley Robbins, East
2012 — Dillon Atwell, Carson
2013 — Dillon Atwell, Carson
2014 — Connor Johnson, East
2015 — Omar Bautista, West
2016 — John Owen, East
2017 — John Owen, East and Owen White, Carson
2018 — Owen White, Carson
2019 — Cole Hales, Carson
2020 — COVID, No award
2021 — Cameron Padgett, East
2022 — Cameron Padgett, East
2023 — Hayden Simmerson, Carson
2024 — Logan Dyer, East and Harrison Ailshie, East