East Rowan wins 3A baseball state championship after 11-3 win over South Central

East Rowan wins 3A baseball state championship after 11-3 win over South Central

East Rowan used two big innings to secure a third baseball state championship in school history.

The Mustangs scored four runs in the first and fourth innings, plus some bonus runs in the sixth to defeat South Central 11-3, winning the series two games to one. It was the fourth title game appearance for East Rowan and first since 2010. It was the first for the Falcons.

UNC commit Cobb Hightower paced the Mustangs (34-2) with three hits, driving in three runs. Sophomore Harrison Ailshie hit the first home run of the series, a three-run shot over the 304 mark in right field to push the lead to 11-3.

Ailshie was named the game MVP after the win.

“We have good chemistry and the bats really showed today,” Ailshie said. “It was just a really good day, really good team chemistry. We were ready today. We have confidence, we have our off days, but we knew we were going to bounce back.”

East Rowan finished the game with 17 hits. Logan Dyer earned the win, striking out four batters and surrendering six hits.

“We didn’t swing it that well last night and they came out and had 17 hits today,” Mustangs’ skipper Brett Hatley said. “One through nine, team effort, they were awesome today.”

The win was also the 100th career victory for Hatley.

It took East Rowan eight and one third innings before they scored two runs on Friday versus South Central. It took the Mustangs two batters to earn that many runs in game two. East Rowan got five hits and jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the top of the first, started off by an RBI triple from Braden Shive. Hightower followed Shive with a single to score a run, quickly making the score 2-0. Nate Hayworth closed out the inning driving in two more runs with a single, giving the Mustangs a comfortable four-run lead early in the contest.

All it took was one inning for the Falcons (24-6) to get back in the game. In the bottom of the second, Mason Hobbs drove in three runs with a double, cutting the Mustangs’ lead to one. South Central got two hits in the inning off of Dyer, who also walked two batters.

A key defensive moment for the Mustangs came when Hatley went to the mound to chat with Dyer in the top of the second when South Central found some success at the plate. Dyer only gave up four hits the rest of the way, including two in the bottom of the seventh when South Central attempted to rally. Hightower took over on the mound to end the game.

“He’s one of those guys you can be hard on him and he’s just going to grind,” Hatley said. “He’s got grit. I told him to keep competing, it’s a long game and just grind out and pound the strike zone.”

The score remained 4-3 until the top of the fourth when the Mustangs’ bats got going again. Mason Phelps got on base with a single and moved to second thanks to a sacrifice bunt from Sam Blackwelder. Dyer and Shive followed with consecutive singles, setting the stage for the hard hitting Hightower, who drove in his second and third runs. Ailshie rode that momentum, following Hightower by driving in another run with a double. McCall Henderson made it three consecutive batters to score with an RBI single.

“I can’t put it into words,” Hatley said. “This group has been awesome, they’ve been fun to coach. They’ve coached me as much as I coached them. It’s just a special group.”

Source: highschoolot.com