Legion Area 3 All-Star Game: North 14, South 5
By David Shaw
Hunter Ridge plays most of his games an hour’s drive from Salisbury, but he made himself right at home Saturday night at Newman Park.
A hard-hitting third-baseman for Randolph Post 45, he turned the Area III All-Star game into a spotlight performance.
“I just try to make contact and hit it hard,” Ridge said after leading the Northern Division to a 14-5 victory over the Southern Division. “Tonight was a good night for that.”
It was an extraordinary night for Ridge, a rising senior at Southwestern Randolph High School who has verbally committed to UNC-Wilmington. He went 3-for-3 with a 2-run homer and three RBIs before leaving in the fifth inning.
“It’s such an honor just to get picked to play in this game,” Ridge said. “I get to play with a bunch of guys who are the best on their teams and the best in the area. Plus, I always love coming here. Everything is great about coming here.”
Ridge put the North ahead 2-1 in the top of the second inning when he drilled his two-run shot over the right-field wall. It came an 0-1 pitch from Mocksville’s Zach Russell-Myers with Randolph teammate Josh Hohn on first base.
“They were telling me (Russell-Myers) had a good slider,” Ridge said. “I was just looking for my pitch and that was it.”
The blast got out in a hurry and erased the Southern Division’s only lead of the night. Leadoff batter Justin Roland of Rowan County had opened the bottom of the first inning against Burlington’s Zach Robinson with a double that whistled off the right-field wall. A relay to second base beat Roland and he was initially called out, but an interference infraction nullified the call.
“It hit off one of those signs,” Roland said afterward. “He threw me a fastball and I hit it good.”
Two batters later, Rowan teammate Trey Holmes gave the South a 1-0 led when he smacked a double off the right field wall.
“I only got a double out of it,” said Holmes, a post-game jokester who said something about hitting the ball off the light tower. “But this game was all about having fun and playing the game the right way.”
There was at least one other bright spot for the local contingent. Relief pitcher Tanner Brown, Rowan’s top pitcher with a 5-1 record, threw a scoreless sixth inning for the South. He recorded a strikeout, yielded a bloop single and induced an inning-ending double play.
“I did all right, I guess,” said Brown, who has fanned 32 batters and walked seven in 412/3 innings this season. “That’s a pretty good hitting team over there. I just wanted to get my outs. It worked out good.”
Rowan teammate Philip Miclat grounded out and fouled out in his two plate appearances. And South Rowan’s Randy Shepherd, the lone selection from Post 185/146, was roughed up for seven runs on five hits as the North built a 12-1 edge in the top of the fourth.
The victory gave the Northern Division a 2-0 lead in the all-star game series.
“Yeah, they laid it on us last year, too,” said Roland, who, along with Holmes, played in the South’s 9-1 loss.
But perhaps Holmes captured the essence of the night when he said, “We’re 0-for-2 against them, but it’s something we’ll cherish all our lives.”