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David Shaw column: South runs with different look

LANDIS ó This is not, David Wright is quick to point out, the same South Rowan American Legion team we saw in 2007.
Gone are the likes of Daniel Wagner and Rudy Brown, sluggers who routinely sent balls screaming into the outer darkness and powered Post 185/146 three rounds deep into postseason play.
This team, it seems, plays with grand goals ó and accomplishes them in small, quiet ways. Except, of course, when it doesn’t.
“We’re a much different team than last year,” Wright said Thursday, shortly after fourth-place South locked up homefield advantage in the first round of the playoffs.”We’re not a home run hitting team,” he continued. “We’re more of a speed-base team than anything. But it’s a team that, if we do things right, we perhaps can make the same kind of run.”
South has given its Landis faithful something more important than a pedestrian 15-10 overall record ó hope. It has closed the regular season with impressive back-to-back victories against Mooresville and Rowan County. After hanging with the Southern Division elite all season, South’s stock is suddenly rising faster than gas prices.
“We know this,” catcher Joseph Basinger said. “We’re going into the playoffs with some momentum. We’ve finally realized how to put it all together and play as a team.”
South isn’t the best thing since Wonka Bars, but it already had the best pitching in these parts. Led by Randy Shepherd, Ryan Bostian, Weston Church and two others with ERAs below 4.00, South’s pitching is a solution looking for a problem.
“We’ve got ability,” is all Wright would say. “We’ll see next week how good it is.”
What happened last night ó when South broke out the heavy artillery ó makes this team all the more dangerous. The only thing missing were the fireworks.
“I think we’ve got everything,” outfielder Scott Ashby said after belting one of South’s three home runs in the 8-4 win against Rowan. “Speed, base-hitters and a little bit of power. It’s been there the whole year.”
It was all there against Rowan.
Shepherd pitched five scoreless innings before leaving after the sixth. Basinger, Ashby and Maverick Miles went deep. And after building an early 7-0 lead, South checked its sideview mirrors, switched lanes and accelerated across the finish line.
“It’s a good way to go,” said Miles, who blasted a seventh-inning pitch from Parker Gobbel into no-man’s land and over the fence in deep right-center. “With the power we have, we can get hold of balls and really rip ’em.”
Even if that hasn’t been their modus operandi this season. The three homers gave South only 20 ó as many as Wagner and Brown combined for a year ago ó though six have come in two games with Rowan.
“There were a few times this game and the game before when our pitchers missed their spots and threw it right over the plate,” Rowan catcher Austin Shull said. “And they capitalized. When you leave it over the plate, it doesn’t take much to take it out.”
Basinger got the party started in the last of the second when he jerked a 2-0 pitch from Billy Veal over the left-fence for a two-run homer and a 4-0 South lead. Shull said Veal was hoping to lure Basinger into chasing something off the outside corner. Instead, the pitch came straight down the middle.
“He just left it in a bad spot,” Shull said.
An inning later Ashby connected for a two-run shot, stretching the lead to 7-0. By the time Miles flexed his muscles and launched his second home run of the year ó both against Rowan ó the verdict was all but sealed.
“It was good to hit some,” Wright said. “Because we went on a drought there where we didn’t hit any. I guess sometimes they come in bunches.”
And these three had perfect timing.

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