Legion Baseball: Rowan 12, Statesville 5
By Bret Strelow
Newman Park’s scoreboard displayed totals from a full nine innings, and the line of hungry Rowan County players stretched from one concession stand to the other.
Rowan’s 12-5 victory against Statesville required a calorie-burning effort even though only three innings of the previously suspended game were contested Wednesday night.
A thunderstorm prevented the teams from finishing the originally scheduled game Sunday. Action resumed three days later with the score tied at 5-all and Rowan batting in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Rowan (17-6, 9-5) scored two runs in the seventh inning, added five in the eighth and wrapped up the win in 75 minutes. Team members gathered briefly before shifting their focus to the awaiting supply of Slushees, soft drinks and hot dogs.
“We only get one hot dog tonight, I guess, because it was a short game,” Rowan’s Russell Michalec said with a smile. “We usually get two.”
Starting second baseman Philip Miclat took the change in stride.
“I was kind of bummed about that ó I wish we got two,” he joked. “I got my Slushee and drink, so I’m all good.”
Rowan’s fun-loving crew ó in no way trying to sound ungrateful for the postgame stomach stuffers ó fared better in the second stint with the Owlz even though ace Aaron Johnson took the mound in the sixth inning.
Statesville (2-14, 1-13) is last in the division, but the prospect of facing Johnson with the score tied at the start of a three-inning showdown concerned Rowan coach Jim Gantt.
“As soon as I heard Johnson was pitching, you think, ‘Uh oh,’ ” Gantt said. “… When you see their ace throwing, you get a little worried.”
Rowan, which left the bases loaded in the third and fifth innings Sunday, popped up a bunt with two runners on in the sixth. A one-out single loaded the bases, but Johnson retired the next two hitters.
Miclat singled with one out in the seventh and scored on a double by Michalec. A good secondary lead enabled Michalec to reach third on a pitch in the dirt during the next at-bat, and Trey Holmes picked up an RBI on a deep fly that was dropped.
“We didn’t really play well Sunday night,” Miclat said. “This was just a different feeling. Even though it was the ace, we felt confident.”
Miclat hit an RBI double in the eighth, and Justin Roland collected an infield single with the bases loaded. An errant throw allowed a second run to score, and D.C. Cranford delivered a two-run double.
Holmes, who pitched the top of the sixth inning Sunday, threw two more scoreless frames. Johnson was the first of four Statesville pitchers used Wednesday, and the final three combined to record five outs.
“They put their ace out there showing they wanted that game because, if they could steal a game from us, it could put them closer to the playoffs,” Michalec said. “The first inning was a little rough. We came out the next inning, and it’s like we couldn’t be stopped. Maybe if we hit like that more often we’ll win a lot more games.”