Legion Baseball: Second round begins tonight
By Mike London
You don’t often get to use Rowan County and underdog in the same sentence, but this hasn’t been a routine year in the Southern Division of Area III.
During the last decade, either Rowan County or Kannapolis has dominated the division, but Lexington and Mooresville finished 1-2 this time. Kannapolis, a state tournament representative in 2000, 2003, 2004 and 2006 has already called it a season.
Lexington starts a best-of-five, second-round series with fourth-seeded South Rowan tonight at Holt-Moffitt Field (see 2C) while Mooresville plays host to Rowan.
Third-seeded Rowan (23-8) isn’t often on the road for the opening game of the second round, but that will be the case tonight. The series shifts to Newman Park on Monday and back to Mooresville Tuesday.
Rowan isn’t a huge underdog in the series, but it is a slight one. It dropped both games to Mooresville (19-8) during the regular season.
Still there are plenty of reasons for optimism for Rowan, which is 20-5 since it’s had a full roster.
First, Rowan comes off a sweep of Mocksville during which it held a good-hitting team to five runs in three games. It was the most positive stretch of the summer for the pitching staff, especially starters Tanner Brown, Zack Simpson and Russell Michalec.
Second, while Rowan has lost to the Moors 12-10 (when it was shorthanded) and 11-8 (when it had its full squad), it played sloppily in both games but still had a chance to win.
Presumably, if Rowan brings its ‘A’ game tonight that might be good enough to get over the hump.
Thirdly, history is overwhelmingly on Rowan’s side.
Not that David Trexler or Travis Goins is going to grab a bat and hit a homer off Aubrey Meadows tonight, but on some level it’s comforting for Rowan fans to know their guys have dominated Mooresville for a long time.
Mooresville last beat Rowan in a playoff series in 1990 when the Moors had a sensational team. Donnell Poole, Matthew Poole, Decomba Conner, Robert Little, Gary Davis, and on and on.
Mooresville was better than Rowan in 1990, proved it by winning the Southern Division regular season, proved it by beating Rowan 3-1 in a division semifinal series, then proved it some more by beating Stanly for the Southern Division title and by beating Kernersville for the Area III championship.
The 1990 campaign was the last time Mooresville got to open a playoff series with Rowan at home.
Since 1990, Rowan and Mooresville have met in playoff series that began at Newman Park in 1993, 1994, 1996, 2000, 2002, 2004 and 2007. Rowan not only won all seven series, it won 22 of 24 games.
The Moors won at Newman Park in 2004, but they haven’t beaten Rowan in a playoff game at Mooresville since 1994. That was the night Billy Fathera cleared the bases twice with doubles for a 9-7 Game 2 victory that started a Fourth of July celebration.
The night after Fathera’s firecrackers, Rowan rallied to erase a 10-0 deficit at Newman Park, and Rowan has owned the series ever since.
This is Mooresville’s best chance to end a drought that is older than most of its players, and it shapes up as a terrific series that many believe will go the full five games.
Mooresville has three good lefty pitchers, including Meadows, a Charlotte signee, and Nick Lomascolo, a rising senior who is a D-I prospect.
Mooresville has a power-hitting team with some speed, and it is tough to beat whenever it plays sound defense.