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West Stanly baseball claims RRC regular-season, tourney titles, awaits playoff seeding

In the last full high school baseball season in 2019, West Stanly claimed the Rocky River Conference regular season and tournament titles. The Colts finished 21-5 that season.

Fast-forward two years to the current season, where West has reeled off a 13-1 overall record. The Colts won both RRC titles after Thursday’s 17-2 five-inning win over Montgomery Central in the tournament finals at West.

West swept the top individual conference awards for the year including Chad Yow as the Coach of the Year. For Yow and the Colts, this season marks the third straight in which the team has swept the regular season and tournament titles.

Yow said the season has been different with the COVID restrictions early, but said the players “did a fantastic job of adhering to our rules and put us in a position that we never had any breakdown.”

The West coach said the early loss to South “was a bit of a wake-up call…it showed these guys that they better sharpen up.”

West did just that  and will enter the state playoffs with a 12-game win streak.

Throwing Fire

RRC Pitcher of the Year, Michael Crayton, is a perfect 6-0 on the season with an earned-run average below 1.0o. He has struck out 63 batters in 34 innings pitched and thrown two no-hitters.

Charlie Carpenter and Carson Morton have combined to go 5-1 on the season, also with ERAs under one with 74 combined strikeouts in 37 innings pitched heading into Thursday’s RRC finals. Morton picked up the win Thursday for West with two scoreless innings while Carpenter pitched a scoreless fifth inning in relief.

Crayton said the year was different not getting to play as many games as the team normally would adding “you want that full high school experience.”

He added he was happy about how the team performed saying West “went through adversity and faced those challenges.”

The RRC Pitcher of the Year said the South game was “eye-opening” and added “we couldn’t just go out and not play our best. Baseball is a very fair game. You have to score runs, throw strikes.”

Regarding the state playoffs, Crayton said, “as long as we keep stroking the ball like we are, we have a chance to go far.”

Putting Up Numbers

The Colts’ pitching staff has benefitted from a lot of run support in every game except a 3-0 non-conference loss to South Stanly. RRC Player of the Year Connor Tucker is batting well over the .400 mark for the season. Michael Crayton and Carpenter are over .375 while Morton has driven in 15 runs and Jett Thomas, Connor Lindsey, Austin Stoker and Jeffery Forest all are in double digits in hits.

West’s offense put 16 runs on the board Thursday including a Crayton home run and triples from Tucker and Carpenter. Both Tucker and Carpenter drove in three runs each.

For the season, West has outscored teams 140-33 averaging exactly 10 runs per game.

Regarding the run support, Crayton said it makes the job of the pitching staff “10 times easier.”

This season, Tucker said, was different first in practice when JV and varsity practiced separately instead of together, which they normally do.

“As the year went on, (things) got easier as the limitations were lifted,” Tucker said, noting the team started the season playing while wearing masks.

The current run West is on, Tucker added, was because “the bats woke up. We’re a very good hitting team as we showed today.”

Agreeing with his teammate on the mound, Tucker said West has a very good chance in the playoffs. He noted the Colts have a “great pitching staff, starters and relievers. If the bats stay hot, I don’t see we can’t win it.”

Playoff brackets will be released Saturday.

About Charles Curcio

Charles Curcio was the sports editor of the Stanly News & Press from 1999-2001 and has currently served in the same capacity since 2008. He was awarded the NCHSAA Tim Stevens Media Representative of the Year and named CNHI Sports Editor of the Year in 2014. He has also been honored twice by the North Carolina Press Association.

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