By David Shaw
Salisbury PostCONCORD ó Five straight season-opening wins has turned six for Rowan County’s American Legion baseball team.
The locals collected 21 hits ó including 19 singles ó in Friday’s 9-2 victory against host Concord.
“We don’t have a lot of power,” coach Jim Gantt said after RC moved to 4-0 in league play. “But we’ve got a lot of good hitters. This is essentially an all-star team of area players. They get timely hits, move runners and steal bases.”
They did all of that and more against Concord (3-4, 1-3). Post 51 did its part to keep Rowan on a roll, parading five pitchers to the mound in an effort to tame RC’s small-ball specialists.
“On this team, hitting is contagious,” shortstop Justin Roland said after delivering three singles, a double and swiping three bases. “We had a bunch of singles tonight, but if somebody’s hitting then everybody wants to hit. That’s what happens.”
Rowan had hits in every inning but the top of the first, when Concord lefty Cody Walker retired the side in order. The beneficiary was winning pitcher Cy Young (2-0), who used a garden variety fastball, an effective slider and a low pitch count to perservere through seven innings. He yielded four hits and one earned run, but wasn’t exactly turning cartwheels afterward.
“It was all right,” the righthander said with a hint of disappointment. “I threw way too many balls. The main thing is we’re still on our streak and we played good defense. I just wish I had thrown more strikes.”
Gantt acknowledged that Young ó who went 5-6 as a freshmen for Wilkes County Community College this spring ó and the rest of the team didn’t look particularly sharp in warmups, adding, “He wanted to throw more strikes. Maybe it’s a good thing he didn’t.”
Young was clever enough to work out of a first-inning jam after hitting Concord leadoff batter Charles Weber with a pitch and surrendering an infield hit to DH Jamie Hatley. He picked up steam between the third and seventh innings when he retired 11 of 13 batters.
“Even though Cy wasn’t on his ‘A’ game,” Roland pointed out, “his ‘B’ game was good enough to shut them down.”
Rowan played station-to-station and took a 1-0 lead in the second. Trey Holmes served a base hit into left-center field, advanced to second on Ross Steedley’s single, gained third on a flyout by Jacob Dobbins and scored on Micah Jarrett’s sacrifice fly.
An inning later Jason Ridenhour punched an RBI single into left for a 2-0 lead. RC cracked the game open with a six-run fourth. Key hits were provided by D.C. Cranford, Weston Church and Steedley, who finished 4-for-6 with three RBIs. He contributed a two-run single in the fourth and a run-scoring bloop into right field in the sixth.
“We’re putting some things together, making contact and getting a few breaks,” Roland said.
Young finally faltered in the seventh, when Concord parlayed two hits, a walk, a Rowan error and a sac fly into the game’s final two runs. He’s allowed only one earned run and struck out 21 in 16 innings this season.
“We’re in a good place right now,” Gantt said. “We just want to keep it going.”
NOTES: Keegan Linza is tonight’s scheduled starter at Lexington. … RC reliever Tanner Brown struck out the side in a 1-2-3 eighth inning. … Teammate Alex Britt hurled a scoreless ninth. … Jarrett went 3-for-4 with a sacrifice fly and a stolen base.
Contact David Shaw at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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