By Mike London
LANDIS ó South Rowan took care of business, won a game it was supposed to win and matched the best division record through 11 games in the program’s 12 seasons of American Legion ball.South beat Wilkes 13-3 in seven innings on Thursday and now stands 8-3 in the Southern Division of Area III.
South (9-6 overall) has been 8-3 only once before. That was in 2003, after the never-to-be-forgotten 31-23 win in the fog at Mocksville that included six RBIs by Aaron Corby and grand slams by Ryan Wilson and Gabe Beaver.
South’s current crew won its fourth straight without breaking a sweat. It didn’t look back after Rudy Brown’s opposite-field, two-run homer in the first inning.
Chase Deal pitched effectively to boost his record to 3-0 and got plenty of help from second baseman Daniel Wagner and shortstop Matt Ingold.
They gloved everything in sight.
“The defense played well, and we got the hits when we needed to,” Deal said. “Rudy put us up early ó that was big. After that we scored about every inning, kept pecking the runs in.”
Brown, a 6-foot-5 lefty known more for his pitching, didn’t expect to see anything to hit because he’d launched a homer at Wilkes four days earlier. But he got a fastball and drove it over the short porch in left and into the parking lot.
“I could hear people telling me the catcher was setting up inside,” Brown said, “but it came in over the plate and up a little. It was a good feeling when I hit it.”
Brown tied lefty hitter Daniel Wagner for the team lead in homers with three, but the ballpark was still buzzing about the ball Wagner rocketed over the 385-foot sign in right field and into the trees in Tuesday’s win over Statesville. Right-field homers at South are about as rare as no-hitters.
“Rudy and I have a batting-practice battle every day,” Wagner said. “But that ball on Tuesday, when I hit it, I knew it was the hardest ball I’ve ever hit in my life. I was out front on the pitch before the home run, and Coach (David Wright) was telling me to stay back. When I got to third base, he said, ‘See, you should listen to me more often.’ ”
That homer was Wagner’s 100th hit at South. He’s the third at South to reach the milestone. Brett Shore had 114 hits, and Ronnie Shore banged out 110.
“Someone told me the homer was my 100th hit,” Wagner said. “A three-run homer was a pretty cool way to get it.”
Just about everyone in the South lineup made progress toward milestones last night, including reserve Brett Huffman, who had an RBI single. It was his first Legion hit.
Walker Snow, getting a shot at DH, went 3-for-3, knocked in two runs, sprinted home on a wild pitch and grinned as teammates ragged him about an unsuccessful steal attempt.
Ingold stayed hot with two walks, two hits and three runs. Justin Lane (two runs) and Jonathon Basinger (triple, two RBIs) also had plenty of fun.
Caleb Shore, brother of both 100-hit Shores, was popular. His RBI single in the sixth gave South a 10-run lead and enabled fans to catch the end of North Carolina’s World Series victory over Rice.
“We weren’t fired up like we are some nights,” Brown said. “But we still put up some pretty big innings. We came ready and got the job done.”
NOTES: South can improve to 9-3 in the division when it plays last-place Montgomery on Saturday. … Darren Dotson homered for Wilkes. … Ingold is enjoying a 10-for-13 spree. … South welcomes strong Randolph County tonight. Center fielder Ben Bunting (UNC) and shortstop Neil Pritchard (Elon) are players to watch.n
Contact Mike London at 704-797-4259 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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