By Bret Strelow
LANDIS ó South Rowan entered with a share of the division lead. Rowan County exited with a road win as proof of its climbing capabilities.Rowan third baseman Weston Church matched the 71-year-old American Legion program’s single-game record for runs scored, and the pitching combo of Tanner Brown and Cy Young held South scoreless for the first seven innings of a 13-2 victory.Rowan (7-1, 5-1) suffered its first loss Saturday and bounced back with a convincing win Tuesday against a South team that prevailed in its first three division games.
“It’s just a win, but it’s huge to win one on the road, particularly early,” Rowan coach Jim Gantt said. “We can’t win the championship now, but we sure can lose it, so it’s important to win these games.”
Lexington-Davidson beat Rowan in 10 innings Saturday, and Tuesday’s results enabled Rowan to jump ahead of South in the standings.
South (3-4, 3-1) put together a near-perfect performance in a 10-3 win against Hickory on Monday but collected only two singles in seven innings against Brown and Young (3-0). Both of those baserunners were picked off first base.
“There are four or five teams in this league, night in and night out, if they bring it, they have a chance to win,” South coach David Wright said. “I think we’re one of those teams, but tonight we didn’t prove it.”
Church scored six runs to tie Bill Gibbons’ program record set against Mt. Airy in 1944. Church finished 3-for-3 with two home runs and a double.
He walked three straight times after his solo homer in the first inning, and he also hit a ninth-inning home run shortly after Justin Roland cleared the left-field fence with his second homer in 281 career Legion at-bats.
Roland, who went deep twice for East Rowan during the recently concluded prep season, also homered against Wilkes County last summer.
“It’s a great thing to be a part of when everybody’s hitting,” Church said. “We’ve got a great lineup one through nine. If somebody gets on, they’ll usually get you in. People in front of me and behind me are hitting the ball great.”
Church’s early home run to center field was the only significant damage in the first three innings against South Rowan starter Walker Snow.
Snow walked Church and hit Trey Holmes with a pitch to begin the fourth, and Ross Steedley’s RBI double gave Rowan a 2-0 lead. Matt Hall hit a sacrifice fly to score Holmes.
Snow retired Roland to open the fifth, but Jason Ridenhour lined a triple to the gap in right-center. A high throw to third base allowed Ridenhour to score, and Micah Jarrett’s RBI single pushed Church home for a 5-0 advantage. Hall followed with another sac fly.A two-run single by Holmes and single by Jarrett in the sixth increased Rowan’s lead to 9-0.
“It’s one game in a bunch,” Wright said. “They had their night; they didn’t do a whole lot wrong. They swung it well, took advantage of our mistakes and did a good job of adjusting.”
Church, who pitched in relief Saturday, was Rowan’s scheduled starter. His right elbow felt tender Monday, so Gantt went with Brown.
Brown, who made only two starts for North Rowan during the prep season because of a broken non-pitching hand, allowed one hit in three innings. He walked three and struck out three.
South’s Daniel Wagner and Jonathon Basinger walked against Brown to start the bottom of the fourth inning, and Young entered at that point.
Chase Deal hit a harmless fly ball to center field for the first out, and Ridenhour banged against the center-field fence as he caught Rudy Brown’s long drive. A strikeout ended the threat.
“The defense played great,” Young said. “All I was worried about was throwing strikes.”
NOTES: Gibbons’ big day came in a 28-10 victory. He went 4-for-5 in the June game. … A Rowan player has scored five runs five times since 1999. Cal Hayes Jr. and Brett Peiffer both did it in a 2000 win against Mocksville-Davie, and Hayes accomplished the feat again in 2002. Seth Waller joined the list during a 22-3 win against Mocksville in 2004.
Contact Bret Strelow at 704-797-4258 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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