Legion Baseball: Thoughts with DeHart in Rowan romp
SALISBURY — In the storied history of Rowan Legion baseball, the past and present kind of merged for a while Sunday night.
On the field, Rowan rolled up a 13-3 win over Kannapolis Post 115 in eight innings to keep itself atop the Southeast Division standings with a week to go in the regular season.
It was the kind of victory former coach Jim DeHart would have relished. The longtime Legion and Catawba coach passed away Sunday morning. The Legion flag flew at half staff and there was a moment of silence before the game in his memory.
On the field the Rowan players were all in preschool when DeHart ruled the roost during the decade of the ’90’s. Most do not know who he was but a lot of the strategies and coverages they employ today were devised by DeHart’s brillant baseball mind.
“He is definitely part of me as a coach,” coach Jim Gantt noted.
Gantt played for DeHart then became his assistant at Catawba and in Legion. “ We had a lot of fun together and a lot of success.”
In Sunday’s game, Rowan pounded out 14 hits and led from start to finish to go 4-0 in the division and 12-7 overall. Lefty Connor Johnson improved to 2-0 with seven solid innings, striking out four and walking only two.
“Overall I pitched okay but it was definitely not my best effort,” Johnson said. “I need to do a better job of getting ahead and not throw so many pitches.”
Rowan got another stellar performance from outfielder Brian Bauk who went 4-for-5, drove in three, scored three and stole four bases.
“He is just a great athlete,” Gantt said of his Appalachian State-bound star.
One of his base thefts featured a little drama as he appeared to be picked off but he scrambled to second and slide right under the tag of Tanner Bost.
“I think he just missed me honestly,” Bauk said. “I just turned by head and slid but he just missed.”
Justin Evans had three hits while Harrison Baucom and Nathan Fulbright contributed two hits each. Rowan opened the game with four runs off starter Austin Mace then turned the game into a rout with six more on five hits in the fifth.
They ended the game by the 10-run rule when Evans walked in the eighth and later scored on Ashton Flemings sacrifice fly.
Trace Hagler and Grayson Miller led Post 115 with two hits and an RBI each.
“We got ourselves down again and couldn’t bounce back,” Kannapolis coach Joe Hubbard said after losing to Rowan two nights in a row.
A veteran coach, Hubbard also spoke fondly of DeHart.
“Baseball lost a true champion today,” Hubbard said. “He was a tremendous man and a class act.”
Sandy Moore played three years for DeHart including the 1993 state-title team.
“He really believed in his players and made us believe in ourselves,” Moore said. “There is no doubt he had a positive impact on my life.”
WSTP broadcaster Howard Platt covered all 11 years of the DeHart era and considered him a great friend.
“It is just a true loss for me, personally. He was the kind of person you could always talk to. He also taught me a lot about baseball”