Somewhere between a 35-minute sun delay and two coaches being ejected, East Davidson and North Rowan found time to play some baseball.
It was an eventful evening at the East ballpark Friday night with Central Carolina Conference implications on the line. When the game finally was concluded nearing 10 p.m., the Golden Eagles had themselves a 7-2 victory to run their league record to 6-0. Nick Williams had an all-round great game, driving in three runs on two doubles to go with a complete-game win on the hill. Ryan McIntire added three RBIs and Nathan Campbell had two hits and an RBI.
“This is good momentum we have going now and we know we are in the driver's seat,” said Williams. “We just need to keep getting things done.”
Play began right at 7 p.m., but was halted five minutes later due to the setting sun in center field causing problems for East catcher Matt Fanary. Play was set to resume 35 minutes later, but a disagreement in the count on the batter halted play. A North Rowan assistant was ejected by the home plate umpire. When play did resume, the Cavaliers left a runner stranded on third as the last batter was called out on strikes. Walking back to the dugout, the North Rowan head coach had a few more words for the plate umpire. He was ejected as well, before order was restored and the game continued on.
Scoreless after three innings, East scratched for two runs in the fourth with Williams leading off with a double. The Eagles looked to sacrifice the runner over to third with a bunt, but Campbell came up empty on two attempts. He dug in and made up for it, delivering a single to plate Williams. Campbell scored moments later on a sacrifice fly by McIntire.
Following his third 1-2-3 inning in the fifth, Williams was clutch at the plate again.
After a strikeout to begin the inning, the next three batters reached to load the bases. Williams was up next and head coach Dan Tricarico decided to get creative knowing how well his senior handles the bat. The signal was for a squeeze play, only Williams did not fully see it. He called for time to discuss the situation with his coach down the third base line. The play was called off and Williams did the rest. He laced a double to right field, driving all three runners in and breaking the game open at 5-0.
“When I looked up to check for the signs I missed it, so I did not want something bad to happen at home,” Williams said. “I stepped out and made sure we had the play right, but then he took it off. I knew my job then was to hit the ball and I did.”
Tricarico felt keeping the play on would be too risky and that the Cavs might pick up on it.
“It was going to be a squeeze play and once he comes down to talk about it, I feel like we have to take it back off,” he said. “Then he rips the ball and that really put the game away.”
The Eagles were not quite done in the inning. An infield single by Campbell put runners on the corners with still only one out. McIntire proceeded to drive a laser to left that bounced against the fence to plate two more and make it 7-0.
“That inning we got the clutch hits, ran the bases and really put the pressure on them,” Tricarico said. “That was a great inning for us. I am pleased our guys came through when they had to in the clutch.”
Williams showed his first sign of struggles in the sixth giving up two runs, but was able to finish out the inning with a five-run lead still in hand.
With Rhodes ready to come out of the bullpen if needed, Williams felt he had enough left in the tank to finish. He did, running his record to 4-1.
“This puts us in a good position and we just have to keep taking care of ourselves and playing well,” said Tricarico.
East improved to 10-4 and stayed a game up on West Davidson in the conference standings. North Rowan is currently in a tie for third place with Salisbury. Noah Gonzalez drove in a run for the Cavaliers Friday.
Sports Editor Zach Kepley can be reached at 888-3631, or email@example.com.