Legion playoffs: South romps
By Mike London
LANDIS ó Playoff games are rarely easy, but South Rowan didn’t break a sweat in a walk in the park behind right-hander Randy Shepherd on Friday.
South scored four times in the first, blitzed Concord 13-3 in seven innings and grabbed a two games to one lead in a best-of-five playoff series that has been plagued by rain.
“It’s been tough to build any momentum in this series,” Concord coach Ron Bost said. “After winning at home, the guys were really fired up to play at South Thursday, but then it rains and you wind up sitting around. Then we come out tonight a little flat and South jumps us early. Our pitcher (Jeff Council) battled his tail off, but we couldn’t make a play behind him.”
No. 4 seed South (17-11) has a chance to wrap up the first-round series today at noon in a seven-inning game at Central Cabarrus High.
If fifth-seeded Concord (13-13) stays alive this afternoon, the teams will decide the series with a nine-inning game at South tonight.
“We’ve just gotta repeat what we did today in that noon game,” South coach David Wright said. “We really need to wrap this thing up early.”
South will send Weston Church (3-0) to the mound this afternoon. Ryan Bostian (3-1) would pitch Game 5.
Concord lefty Colby Bartlett is the probable mound opponent for Church.
Today’s survivor opens a best-of-five, second-round series at top-seeded Lexington on Sunday.
South produced lots of offense with Ryan Bostian, Caleb Shore and Joseph Basinger rapping three hits apiece. Maverick Miles knocked in three runs.
South scored enough runs for Shepherd in its first at-bat. A swinging third strike that would have been the third out scooted past catcher Logan Sloop and a two-run inning mushroomed into a backbreaking, four-run frame.
Shepherd allowed a solo homer to Michael Tancini on a second-inning curveball and a two-run homer by Dalton Shuford on a changeup that stayed up in the sixth, but he was in complete control.
“I think that’s the first time in my life I gave up two home runs in a game,” Shepherd said. “I didn’t feel like I had much pop on my fastball, but I kept it low, hit my spots and got a lot of groundouts.”
Shepherd (3-2) fanned six, walked one and recorded 10 outs on the ground, mostly routine bouncers that were pulled into the waiting gloves of third baseman Church and shortstop Matt Ingold.
“Randy threw decent, stayed in the zone, and he could conserve something with us getting up early,” Wright said. “He wasn’t trying to hum it up there. He just did what he needed to do.”
South put the game away with a three-run fourth inning during which it displayed some of its best offensive execution of the summer.
Matt Ingold, a master of the HBP who was plunked by three different hurlers, cheerfully welcomed a pitch off his body to start the frame. Bostian’s hit-and-run single to right put runners on the corners, and Shore’s hit-and-run single scored a run.
After Shore stole second, Miles got a run home with a groundout, and Church delivered an RBI single.
“We had guys thinking right field and doing a good job of going that way, Wright said.
Shepherd cruised, and Walker Snow ended the game via the 10-run rule with a seventh-inning single.
“It’s a tough night when you’re facing their No. 1 and he’s throwing well,” Bost said. “We just made mistake after mistake, and now we’ve got our backs against the wall.”