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West falls to North Rowan in pitchers' duel

The ball bounces high off the batting helmet of North Rowan’s Clint Veal on an errant pickoff throw during their game on Wednesday at Feezor Field. Veal ended up taking third on the play. (Photo by Mike Duprez/The Dispatch)

TYRO | North Rowan will join the Central Carolina Conference next season.

If the young Cavaliers could hang onto right-handed pitcher Clint Veal one more year, they would certainly like their chances.

Veal tossed a tidy little two-hitter at West Davidson on Wednesday, and the Cavs got just enough offense to eke out a 2-1 nonconference win over the Dragons.

West’s Zach Queen was nearly as impressive, scattering seven hits and striking out 11 over 6 2/3 innings. But Brandon White followed Queen’s errant pickoff throw with a two-run single to right in the top of the second, and that was all the support Veal needed.

Facing some of his childhood friends, Veal was thrilled to throw so well. “It felt good,” he said. “I played with a lot of these West Davidson boys growing up as a kid.

“We lived right across the river, so … it worked out. I hit my spots, there’s nothing much you can do but let the defense work at that point.”

Veal wasn’t overpowering, only recording four strikeouts. But he worked his way out of two major jams, including stranding the potential tying run at third base in the bottom of the seventh.

North coach Aaron Rimer was tickled with Veal’s performance. “Clint did a great job,” Rimer said. “He controlled the inner half of the plate; they’ve got some good sticks over there, and he was locating well on the inner half, especially.

“He was able to get ahead of most of the hitters, and did a fantastic job.”

As the game moved along, Rimer was tempted to go to the bullpen. But he was overruled. “I really didn’t want to go with Veal that long tonight,” Rimer explained. “But he didn’t want the ball taken out of his hands, so we stuck with it.”

West coach Jerry Walser, whose team dipped to 9-3 with the loss, wasn’t completely disappointed with the loss. After two overwhelming wins over Lexington last week, and with two seemingly lopsided conference games against Thomasville on tap for next week, he actually enjoyed seeing his team get put in some tough spots. “The purpose of these three games over Easter is for us to get better for conference play,” Walser said. “Quite honestly, we haven’t been in many games where we have to be prepared to do the things we have to do in the conference.

“If you think about it, we did some very good things. We were in some jams, and Zach was able to pitch out of them, and we were able to make a few plays behind him. Obviously, you want to win, but it was a growing experience for us.”

Veal led off the top of the second with a single to left, and Rhett Hellard delivered a base hit to left one out later. Queen tried to pick Veal off at second moments later, but his throw hit a diving Veal in the helmet and popped into left field, allowing both runners to move up one base. Brandon White made that mistake hurt by lifting a soft liner to right one out later to plate both runs and give the Cavs a 2-0 advantage.

West responded with a run in the bottom of the third. Matt Berrier reached on a bunt single with one out, then moved to second on a wild pitch. Justin Freeman walked, then Queen laced a high fly ball to deep left field. Noah Gonzalez couldn’t haul it in, and that allowed Berrier to come all the way around to score. But Veal got Justin Smith to ground out and Graham Shoaf to pop out to second, ending the threat.

West remained quiet until the seventh, when Boo Norman drew a leadoff walk. Chandler Simerson bunted him over to second, and Matt Allen grounded out to second to put the tying run 90 feet from home plate. But Veal got Kyle Smith to fly out to right, wrapping up the win for the visitors.

Queen had two hits for West, which travels to McCrary Park to face Asheboro on Thursday. Chance Mazza had two hits for the Cavaliers.

Jason Queen can be reached at 249-3981, ext. 220 or