By David Shaw
No one needed more proof, but Weston Church provided some anyway.
The Rowan County third baseman cemented his reputation as a bona-fide slugger in a 19-3, seven-inning win against visiting Rockingham on Monday night.
“Sometimes you just get in one of those hot streaks and you can’t get out,” Church said after crunching a pair of third-inning home runs and going 4-for-4 with seven RBIs. “On this team, they want me to drive in runs. They’re doing their job by getting on base. My job is to get them in.”
Church helped Rowan (15-1) gain its ninth straight victory. His glow-in-the-dark bat also produced a run-scoring double off the left-field wall in the first inning and an RBI single in the fourth.
“He’s been on fire lately,” coach Jim Gantt said. “He’s gotten hot and stayed hot. He’s been able to do it on a consistent basis. I think being in this lineup really helps him. In high school (at West Rowan) they didn’t give him anything to hit. They nibbled. Now he’s getting some pitches to hit, and he’s not missing.”
Church sparked Rowan’s game-changing, nine-run third inning when he lifted a 1-0 pitch from George Mabes over the fence in the right-center ó a two-run homer that snapped a 3-3 tie.
“It was a fastball up, and I drove it the other way,” he explained. “I wasn’t sure if that one was out.”
There was no doubt when Church repeated the feat against reliever Jordan Goins ó this time with two men on and two out later in the same inning. His sixth home run of the season made it 12-3 and sailed over the scoreboard in left-center with room to spare.
“I don’t know too much about him,” Rockingham coach John Hall III said. “But he must be a great player. The home runs he hit tonight were huge turning points. He broke our backs.”
Rowan finished with 14 hits and drew 14 walks from five Rockingham pitchers. Jason Ridenhour ó who started the game on the mound and finished in center field ó contributed a two-run single in the third, an RBI groundout in the fourth and a sacrifice fly in the fifth. He joined teammates Jacob Dobbins, Joe Kesler and D.C. Cranford with two hits.
“Everybody on this team is hitting the ball,” said Church, the team leader with 31 hits, 26 RBIs and a .500 batting average. “It’s not just me. No matter who’s in the lineup, we’re all hot right now.”
Ridenhour hurled three innings and allowed three runs on six hits. Right-hander Alex Britt relieved, tossed three scoreless innings and picked up his first victory.
“I was getting ahead and hitting my spots,” he said. “But when we’re hitting the ball like that, it’s a great feeling. We’re a team full of all-stars, pretty much. That’s what I think.”
So does Hall, who watched Post 254 drop to 6-10 overall.
“That’s a great squad,” he said, waving a hand toward Rowan’s dugout. “They swung the bats hard and hit everything we threw at them. I had to go through my entire pitching staff.”
NOTE: Gantt said left-hander Lee Dupre (3-0, 3.18 ERA) ó shaky in a relief outing Sunday in Mocksville ó will start tonight at Kannapolis. … Micah Jarrett started in center field and stole two bases.n
Contact David Shaw at email@example.com.
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