Legion Baseball Playoffs: Hathcock, Rowan wallop Wilkes in Game 2
SALISBURY — Make that 12 wins in a row for the Rowan American Legion team, and lately they are making it look easy.
Packing most of its offense into the first four innings, Rowan (21-7) pounded out 16 hits and mashed Wilkes 14-1 Tuesday night in seven innings at Newman Park. They now lead their best-of-five divisional series 2-0 and can make it another sweep tonight at home.
Right-hander Brian Bauk dominated Wilkes for five innings of two hit, shutout baseball to improve his mound record to 6-0. He fanned five, walked just one and was quick to credit his defense.
“I am not like an overpowering pitcher and I don’t try to be,” Bauk said. “I just want to be strong throughout the entire game and put the ball in play. We make plays in the field and that is what I rely on.”
In a game at Newman Park where Rowan was actually the visiting team, there were many offensive stars.
But second baseman Chase Hathcock rose above the rest and made a little personal history in the process. The East Rowan product went 5-for-5, including three doubles and drove in five runs. He had never had such a perfect night at the plate. Being patient was part of the reason.
“You have got to pick your spots and not just be free-swinging,” Hathcock noted. “You have to take some pitches and see what they are throwing, then just wait for your spot. Plus a lot of our guys just get on base and make it easy to get RBIs.”
The runs came early for Rowan off Wilkes starter Tanner Little, starting with a six spot in the top of the first on four hits and three walks. Hathcock drove in two with his first double and Hunter Brooks, who went 2-for-3 with three RBI, had a key single. It was a marathon start covering about 25 minutes as Rowan sent nine men to the plate.
They added two in the second as Chance Bowden drove in Bauk with a single then scored on a wild pitch. The score went to 10-0 in the third as Bauk and Hathcock had run scoring doubles off reliever Zack Crabb.
Rowan piled it on in the fourth with four more runs as Brooks drove in a pair with a single while Hathcock and Ashton Fleming also had run-scoring hits. Fleming had three hits in five trips from his lead-off spot while Bauk helped himself by reaching base four times and scoring each time.
“Our guys did put the barrel on the ball tonight and got some key hits,” Rowan coach Jim Gantt said. “Brian pitched well and made it through five but he was sweating a lot so we wanted to be sure he was healthy when the game is over.”
Riley Myers relieved Bauk in the sixth and allowed an unearned run on an error and sacrifice fly by Evan Edmiston to make it 14-1. Lefty Heath Mitchem came on to close it out in the bottom of the seventh and responded with three strikeouts.
A bright spot for Wilkes (4-9) was third pitcher Jeremiah Triplett who shut out Rowan over the final three innings on three hits.
“Triplett is a young kid who had a rough outing Monday,” Post 31 coach Terry Johnson said. “He was getting frustrated so I told him to just go out tonight and have fun with it.”
Johnson hopes to have his top two pitchers available for tonight’s game as both pitched in last Saturday’s doubleheader sweep at Mocksville. Watauga High product Chance Richards is the likely starter against Rowan’s Connor Johnson.
Rowan was the visitor in Tuesday’s win by agreement since Wilkes’ home field was too soggy. Tonight’s game is a home game for Rowan as they go for their second sweep of the Area III playoffs.
Bauk said another lopsided win would be just fine with him, saying “I just want to go out and win baseball games.”