Legion Baseball: Wojans top South
By Mike London
LANDIS ó Kannapolis shortstop Wesley Honeycutt made a headlong, diving stop of Randy Shepherd’s hot ninth-inning grounder up the middle to end the game, and the visiting Wojans held off South Rowan 6-4 on Monday.
Honeycutt made three strong plays in the ninth ó each one better than the last.
“That last out, I knew I’d have to leave my feet and get dirty for my pitcher, but I got a bead on it, and I was lucky the ball stayed in my glove and didn’t roll away,” Honeycutt said. “That gave me time to set my feet and (first baseman) Andrew Lawing stretched for it. He saved me all night.”
Kannapolis (7-10, 6-8) weathered an eighth-inning power failure that led to an emotionally charged finish.
Ryan Bostian went 2-for-2, plus a walk and a sacrifice fly, to lead South (11-8, 7-5).
Davidson signee Ryan Overcash pitched brilliantly for 71/3 innings for Kannapolis.
Jacob Wright was huge for the visitors ó belting a homer, making a diving catch to turn Bostian’s sure double into a sac fly and nailing down the last four outs for a tense save.
Kannapolis won the sort of game it’s been losing. Two one-run losses to Stanly and two tight ones to Mocksville have Kannapolis tied for seventh in the division, but when Overcash pitches, Post 115 isn’t a seventh-place team.
“We could be sitting in about third place right now if we’d won some games we should have,” Kannapolis coach Matt Stack said. “But this team is starting to play with some heart. I’ve said all along that whenever we found some heart, we’d be dangerous.”
The tough thing for South coach David Wright to swallow is that his team bludgeoned Kannapolis twice by the 10-run rule in glorified scrimmages, but was swept in two league encounters by its neighbor.
“Overcash threw well, Kannapolis played well, and Kannapolis deserved to win, but we’re also not coming to the ballpark to play every night,” he said. “What made us so good last year wasn’t that we were so great, it’s that our kids came to play every single day. Right now, we’re just not doing that, and if we don’t start doing it, it’s gonna be a short summer.”
South’s lineup was minus Weston Church (illness) and Brett Huffman (hip), but Overcash might have been tough on the 1961 Yankees. He was tough enough to end Maverick Miles’ 14-game hitting streak.
Randy Shepherd’s triple and Bostian’s RBI single gave South an early 1-0 lead, but Jacob Wright’s third-inning homer ó he crushed a changeup away ó tied it. Hunter Pate’s solo blast leading off the fourth gave Kannapolis the lead for good.
“My changeup wasn’t as good as the last time I pitched against them,” said South starter Zach Wright, who worked six decent innings, before being relieved by Cameron Park and Alex Ingold. “I missed my spots some. I’ve got to find more consistency.”
Overcash and catcher Grayson Thompson cruised. Kannapolis led 6-1 when the lights dimmed with one out and one on in the South eighth.
Overcash didn’t return to the mound after a 30-minute delay, and lefty reliever Matt Mariano was greeted by Caleb Shore’s double. After a walk, a wild pitch, a sac fly and a hit batsman, it was 6-3, South fans were making noise, and Jacob Wright was jogging in from center field to settle things down.
Wright, whose fastball is in the low 90s, faced the pinch-hitting Church and walked him on a full count to load the bases. Wright then hit Joseph Basinger with a pitch to force home a run, but he struck out Scott Ashby to preserve the lead.
In the South ninth, it was all Honeycutt fielding and Lawing scooping. Honeycutt charged hard to throw out Matt Ingold, gloved Miles’ whistling grounder and made a pretty incredible play to retire Shepherd for the final out.
“Every time I tried to pump up with my fastball, it was going right at their heads,” Jacob Wright said. “I had to slow it down and just try to throw strikes and let my defense make some plays behind me.”