South Legion falls to Lexington
By Mike London
LANDIS ó Sixteen hours after losing in extra innings to Rowan County, Lexington’s Legion team rebounded to beat South Rowan 8-5 in a seven-inning makeup game on Wednesday afternoon.
“This is a real tough feat,” Lexington coach Matt Griffin said. “On the road at Rowan, South Rowan and Kannapolis in a 24-hour period ó that would be a real tough stretch for anyone.”
Lexington (18-7, 14-3) quickly exited the South field in search of food and then made the short trip to Kannapolis to complete a season-ending doubleheader.
Maverick Miles and Brett Huffman drove in two runs apiece for South (13-10, 9-7). Ryan Bostian extended his hitting streak to 10 games and scored three runs. Bostian is batting .486 with 13 runs scored during the streak.
Lexington had a tougher time than it did when it routed South 22-4 at Holt-Moffitt Field with a barrage of homers June 1, but it got the job done. It scored in each of the first four innings against South left-hander Zach Wright.
“Zach just didn’t have it today,” South coach David Wright said. “And we missed opportunities to make plays behind him. We didn’t play good baseball at all the first four innings, just kinda drug ourselves into it. You might get away with that against Statesville, but you’re not gonna get away with it against a club like Lexington.”
Zach Wright pitched two hitless innings with three strikeouts against Lexington on Sunday before the game was postponed by rain.
“He just cruised through those two innings,” Griffin said. “But we did a nice job early today, made adjustments and had better at-bats.”
The tone for a South loss was set early. Wright got the double-play ball he needed to get out of the first inning unscathed, but third baseman Weston Church’s throw to second sailed into the outfield, and Lexington got a run.
Jordon Hudson’s two-out, two-run triple in the second eluded diving right fielder Caleb Shore, and it was 3-0.
Barrett Coldfelter’s two-run single and Alex Grubb’s RBI triple keyed Lexington’s four-run third for a 7-0 lead, and South spent the rest of the afternoon playing catch-up.
South lefty reliever Dylan Walker pitched three shutout innings, with the help of two double plays, and chopped his ERA from 36.00 to 18.00. He gave South a chance to rally.
“Credit their pitcher for keeping us off-balance, but we had some bad at-bats those last three innings when we had a chance to put this one away,” Griffin said.
It was a frustrating day for South hitters, who failed to take advantage of eight walks and left 11 on base.
South managed only one run in the third despite being handed three walks and an error. Lexington starter and winner Zach Joyce got a key third out when he struck out Randy Shepherd on a 3-2 pitch with the bases loaded.
South picked up two runs in the fifth on an RBI single by Miles and Huffman’s sac fly to cut its deficit to 8-3.
South scored two more runs and finally knocked out Joyce in the sixth, but reliever Michael Pilcher got a huge out when he faced the tying run and retired Huffman on a routine flyball to center to strand two runners.
South’s seventh got off to a promising start when Shepherd was struck by a pitch, but closer Luke Wilhelm retired three straight hitters to slam the door.
“The last couple of nights we were able to find a way,” David Wright said. “This time we didn’t. You’ve got to bring your ‘A’ game for seven innings when you’re playing this bunch.”
NOTES: South wraps the regular season tonight with a makeup game at home against Rowan County. … Shepherd was the only South player voted by coaches to play in Saturday’s Area III All-Star Game at Newman Park. He is taking a visit to Appalachian State next week. … Huffman is working on switch-hitting after batting right-handed at West Rowan and most of the summer. He had four hits from the left side Tuesday. … Griffin said he couldn’t remember a year when the division had so much parity. “There are eight solid teams,” he said. “Even if you’re matched up with that No. 8 seed in the first round, it will be a tough series.”