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Legion Baseball: Rowan 14, Kannapolis 4

By Mike London
Salisbury Post
The last thing Rowan County coach Jim Gantt expected from Justin Roland was a homer, but the shortstop is full of surprises.
In the 440th official at-bat of his Legion career, Roland produced his fourth homer and broke open a tense struggle with Kannapolis that turned into a 14-4 runaway.Rowan led 4-2 when Zach Smith and Austin Shull reached to start the fourth at Newman Park. Roland was the next batter to face hard-throwing Kannapolis right-hander Jacob Wright.
“You think about bunting in that situation with your leadoff hitter,” Gantt said. “But Roland is as good a hitter as there is on the field.”
Good decision. Roland launched a 3-2 pitch over the left-field fence and took some steam out of Kannapolis on a muggy night that left pitchers and catchers soaked with sweat.
“I was just looking to slap it somewhere with guys on base,” Roland said. “But he got a pitch up and I turned on it.”
He slapped it all right. Right into the trees.
Rowan’s Tanner Brown did a nice job on the mound. He allowed four runs in 52/3 innings, but he stayed calm, pitched to contact and let an errorless defense do its thing.
“Kannapolis hits the ball good, but our defense really did the job,” Brown said. “And no walks tonight felt great.”
Rowan (6-3, 2-3) didn’t hit the ball any harder than the visitors, but its hits were far more timely.
“We hit it at ’em all night long, and didn’t make a couple of key plays,” Kannapolis coach Matt Stack said. “I don’t think there was as much difference as it looks on the scoreboard, but all we’re doing right now is shuffling the deck, anyway. What really matters is how well you’re playing at the end of June. We’ll be OK.”Philip Miclat had a two-out, two-run single in the second for a 4-1 lead. Austin Shull had a two-run double in the fifth. Noah Holmes and Zach Smith were impossible to get out.
There was no doubt about the outcome after Roland’s homer knocked out Wright, and Rowan ended the game by the 10-run rule in the seventh on Trey Holmes’ RBI single.
Jason Brown stayed hot with two hits for Kannapolis (4-6, 3-4) off Tanner Brown, his Wilkes Community College teammate, but Kent Basinger retired Brown to end Kannapolis’ last threat in the sixth.
Rowan is still seventh in the standings because it lost three games before it was at full strength, but Roland, who is now fifth in runs scored on Rowan’s all-time list, doesn’t expect a long-term problem.
“We win the next 10 or so, we’ll be in pretty good shape,” he said with a smile.

Contact Mike London at 704-797-4259 or mlondon@salisburypostcom.

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