Rowan shut out East Carter, 11-0, to end the regular season.
After Monday night's 3-0 win over Paul Laurence Dunbar, the Vikings were determined to end the week with a clean slate, giving up zero runs before rolling into the postseason.
It was a slow first inning. The Raiders held the Vikings scoreless and East's pitcher Matthew Holmes struck out the first two batters in the top of the second.
The Raiders welcomed Holmes back for a senior night performance after having spent the majority of his senior season battling back from a hand injury. Holmes threw three innings. He gave up five runs on six hits while striking out two.
“This is really his first time back. It was senior night and we wanted to give him a start. I thought he gave us some great innings for a kid that hasn’t played all season,” said East Carter coach Jeremiah Shearer.
Holmes was relieved by Treven Tussey in the fourth and Noah Caudill came in to close out the game.
The Vikings’ bats picked up by the second when Corey Binion hit his fifth season home run over centerfield.
“They made some adjustments, sat back a little more and had good plate approaches from that point on. When the kids do that, things are going to go really well for us. It’s when we don’t have the good approaches that has got us in trouble from time to time,” said Rowan County skipper Scott Collins.
Vikings’ freshman Chase Alderman followed suit with a second homer that bounced off the Raiders field house.
Alderman had an exceptional performance at the plate. He went three-for-three hitting all extra base hits with a pair of doubles and a homerun, his first career home run with the Vikings’ varsity team.
“Yesterday in practice when we were taking BP (batting practice), Coach Ward videoed me, Coach Hess gave me a little instruction. They both helped me out and fixed my swing. So, today I felt good at the plate and knew I was going to hit it,” said Alderman.
The Vikings tallied 11 runs on 11 hits, six of them extra base hits. Shane Taylor slid into third for a triple in third and Devon Stevens hit a double in the Vikings seven-run fourth inning.
The Raiders had two hits, a double in the fourth and a single in the fifth.
“I thought we had some good at bats tonight. I thought we hit some really hard balls, on the button, just right at them. We hit a line drive to first, and a line drive to shortstop there. They did what good teams, make plays. Other teams in the region might not make those plays,” said Shearer.
Ethan Tiller broke Matthew Gagliano’s no-hitter in the fourth inning. He doubled on a line drive to left field giving the Raiders a good chance at a run.
Gagliano pitched four inning giving up no runs on one hit, struck out three and walked three in his last regular season game as a Viking.
“It’s kind of sad being my last regular season game in a Viking’s uniform, but now it is just all focused on the postseason. We going in 0-0, and hopefully, we keep it going,” said Gagliano.
Gagliano had walked Trevor Cline at the start of the fourth inning and Tiller’s double moved him to third. Gagliano kept the board clean for the Vikings third straight shutout by catching Cline advancing home on a wild pitch. Rowan County catcher, Binion fielded the passed ball and threw to Gagliano for the third out to get the Vikings out of a tough inning.
Binion came in as relief for Gagliano in the fifth. It was one of Binion's first games back on the mound and the Vikings are glad to have him back as a closer for the postseason.
“He hasn’t been on the mound since sometime in April with a little bit arm soreness. But he has rehabbed it, and by the looks of it tonight, he is throwing the ball really well. It’s good to have him back and healthy,” said Collins.
He struck out Maxwell Shelton and Connor Goodman for two outs in the inning that ended the regular season.