Legion Baseball: Stanly 12, Rowan 11
By Mike London
Rowan County’s D.C. Cranford has worked miracles before, and he came very close to producing another one in a 12-11 American Legion loss against Stanly County on Friday night.
Rowan (3-2, 1-2) was behind by six runs when the bottom of the ninth began and Newman Park was a mausoleum. But by the time Cranford stepped to the plate with the bases loaded, still none out and the deficit suddenly reduced to 12-9, even the most pessimistic of the hardy fans who remained in the bleachers as 11 p.m approached, had begun to hope.
Cranford, a 2007 East Rowan graduate had hit two grand slams one crazy night his senior year against Davie County after Staton Field had emptied in despair, so why not one more? Why not a walkoff slam to win it?
Stanly (2-5, 2-4) had turned to Catawba’s Nathan Furr as its third pitcher of the ninth, and even if Furr knew Cranford’s bases-loaded history, he didn’t show any nervousness as the count went full.
“A baseball game can turn around fast and no one had given up,” Cranford said. “I was just thinking, ‘Hit it hard somewhere.’ Against a pitcher that good, I knew it would be tough not striking out.”
He got contact on a 3-2 pitch, sending a screamer toward left-center. Rowan fans stood, expecting to see the ball bang against the wall for a two-run double, but center fielder Tanner Furr chased it down in the gap. It was only a sac fly, scoring Thomas Hester from third. The lead was cut to 12-10, but Furr and Stanly were still in control.
“If that ball falls,” Rowan coach Jim Gantt said, “we probably win it.”
Furr struck out Justin Mock for the second out, as Russell Michalec got hung up between first and second. Michalec eluded a tag, darting back to first safely as Philip Miclat raced home to make it 12-11.
But Furr struck out Billy Veal to end a long night.
Furr’s eighth-inning homer produced the decisive run. Reliever Bradley Love blanked a Rowan lineup, which is still minus East players, for four innings. Corey Dick had five RBIs, including a homer that bounced off the top of the wall to break a 6-6 tie in the fifth.
“I was hoping we could get it done without me pitching,” Furr said. “But we couldn’t let a big lead get away again.”
Stanly didn’t, but Rowan gave its fans a late thrill.
“Our guys don’t give up,” Gantt said. “That’s how we’ve played in all of them.”
Contact Mike London at 704-797-4259 or email@example.com.
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