Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 14, 2007
By Mike London
STATESVILLE ó Seventeen walks, 16 errors and four soggy hours of baseball could have dampened even Ernie “Let’s Play Two” Banks’ enthusiasm for the national pastime.
Fortunately for the Kannapolis American Legion team, veteran Jay Hosack never lost interest and steered his teammates to a 20-8 victory at Statesville on Thursday.
Hosack turned in a marathon relief outing, working 81/3 innings. He also whacked an opposite-field homer, made good defensive plays and probably sold a few umbrellas between innings.
“I didn’t know I had that in me because I’m mainly a relief man ó a short relief man,” Hosack said. “Right now, I’m really tired, but I’m out here playing Legion ball to have fun, and I did have some fun.”
The 20 or so spectators who stuck it out had less fun than Hosack thanks to a steady rain that pelted the field from the fifth inning through the eighth.
The rain turned just another ugly Legion game into borderline comedy. The players probably will never forget it ó not that they won’t try.
Fourth-place Kannapolis (8-6, 7-3) was shorthanded with key players still on beach trips, but it survived a game it couldn’t afford to give away.It wasn’t as easy as the final score sounds.
Kannapolis didn’t get things under control until it scored eight times in the ninth. The outcome was very much in doubt when Statesville got the tying run to the plate in the seventh. Trailing 12-8, the ninth-place Owlz (4-6, 2-6) loaded the bases against Hosack, but he retired leadoff hitter Tanner Stroud on a comebacker.
“Jay did a good job on a night when it wasn’t easy to do a good job,” Kannapolis coach Empsy Thompson said. “With some players gone right now, the staff was limited.”
Kannapolis starter Daniel Welch didn’t make it through the bottom of the first. After two loud doubles and four walks, he switched places with first baseman Hosack.
“I did OK, but Statesville’s hitters kinda surprised me,” Hosack said. “I like to pitch to contact, but sometimes contact was someone roping a double to the outfield off me.
“My curveball’s been my money pitch, but it just wasn’t there. I still mixed in a few, but mostly it was just fastball, fastball, fastball.”
Kannapolis’ defense created excitement behind Hosack, but Post 115 never lost the lead after Wesley Honeycutt’s two-run single in the second inning. Brett Honeycutt had four hits and stole three bases. Ryan Wildrick swiped four bags. Wildrick and Hosack scored four runs each.
Malcolm Robinson had three solid hits for the Owlz.
“This gives us 7-3 for the first half, and that’s not bad,” Thompson said. “Maybe we can match it or even do a little better in the second half.”