Prep Baseball: East Davidson 5, Salisbury 0: Hornets finished tied for second in CCC
By David Shaw
SALISBURY— Salisbury’s problems Friday night began and ended with two words: Avery Bowles.
The East Davidson junior did everything he could to spoil Senior Night for the Hornets, pitching a complete-game shutout in a 5-0 CCC victory.
“He just beat us tonight,” SHS coach Scott Maddox said after the Hornets (7-16, 7-3) finished the regular season tied for second place and settled for a No. 3 seed in next week’s conference tournament. “He was better than we were. But he’s been better than a lot of people this year.”
Bowles, a sneaky-quick righthander, scattered six singles — all in the first four innings — struck out seven, walked none and improved to 7-1. He retired the final 10 Salisbury batters and 12 of the last 13.
“That’s just his mentality,” said East assistant coach Brian Gusa. “He’s a horse for us. He commands the strike zone, mixes his pitches up and likes to stay in the ballgame.”
Salisbury center fielder Brian Bauk went 2-for-3 and lifted his average to .500. After the game he made a point of congratulating Bowles near the visitors dugout.
“He was always around the plate,” said Bauk, who also gunned down a runner at the plate to complete a fifth-inning double play. “If we could do it over, I think we’d attack his first pitch a little more. I really hope we get to see him again.”
The rest of the Hornets saw enough of him last night.
“He got into a groove,” said Kyle Wolfe, one of only two Salisbury baserunners to reach third base. “He settled in on us. This isn’t the way we wanted to go out on Senior Night, but we’ll see them again next week.”
Bowles outpitched Salisbury starter Scott Freidrich, a junior right-hander who yielded five hits and two earned runs in 51/3 innings. East Davidson went hitless over the first three innings, although Freidrich (1-6) walked the bases loaded before escaping unscathed in the third.
“Our second baseman (Skylar Mikkelson) made a great play to knock down a ball to end that inning,” Maddox said. “It was a big play at the time.”
The guests scored their first run in the top of the fourth. Josh Craven blooped a leadoff double down the right field line and scored when Braxton Shetley paddled a two-out single to center.
Freidrich ran into double trouble an inning later when Brock Goodyear smashed one over Bauk’s head and teammate Tyler Stroup skipped another into the right field corner. East led 3-0 when Bauk defused the rally with a relay throw home that nailed Stroup.
East tacked on two more runs in the sixth when Freidrich withered and reliever Parker McKeithan surrendered Hayden Steelman’s two-run single.
The rest was up to Bowles, whose late-inning rhythm had Salisbury singing the blues.
“He’s just a good pitcher who got the best of us tonight,” Bauk said.
Using a plus-fastball, a knuckle-curve and a split finger pitch that dropped like an elevator with broken cables, Bowles threw first-pitch strikes to 20 of the 26 men he faced.
“With my fastball, the umpire was giving me a little bit off the plate,” he said. “So I took advantage of that every chance I got.”
It left Maddox tipping his cap.
“The story of the game was Bowles dominating us, especially as the game went on,” he said. “Once they got three runs, it might as well have been eight or nine.”
NOTES: The loss snapped Salisbury’s seven-game winning streak against CCC opponents. The Hornets will open the CCC tournament Monday night at home. … SHS catcher Riley Myers was robbed of an extra base hit when his screeching line drive was snagged by Stroup in center field in the bottom of the third.