Legion Baseball: Lexington 7, South Rowan 6
By David Shaw
LEXINGTON ó The window of opportunity was left ajar for South Rowan on Monday ó but it slammed it shut on its fingers.
Post 185/146 had a chance to break serve in its best-of-5, second-round series with top-seeded Lexington. But the locals surrendered five runs in the bottom of the eighth inning ó four of them unearned ó and suffered a 7-6 Game 1 loss.
“We didn’t complete the game,” coach David Wright said after South (18-12) committed four errors and issued 14 walks. “We completed seven innings. We gave up just a stupid amount of walks. When you play like that, you’re not gonna win.”
Funny thing is, this game was South’s for the taking. Behind starting pitcher Walker Snow it built a 6-1 lead against Lexington ace Clay Watson and needed only nine outs to grab a one-game-to-none edge. Instead, Snow tired after yielding a seventh-inning run and South’s bullpen coughed up a four-run lead in the eighth.
“The bullpen wasn’t as good as it usually is,” said SR right-fielder Caleb Shore. “They walked a lot of guys. We don’t usually do that.”
South relievers Alex Ingold and Scott Ashby combined to walk six batters in the eighth inning, when Lexington (23-6) scored three times on bases-loaded walks, once on a wild pitch and another on a throwing error.
“This team is not afraid to fight,” Post 8 catcher Ben Redmond said after throwing out three would-be basestealers. “We’re a good, battling team that hangs around waiting for something to happen.”
Everything was happening for South in the early going. Shore, the game’s second batter, gave the guests a first-inning lead when he drilled a two-run home run to center field.
“We came in here as underdogs,” Shore said after drawing walks in his four subsequent at-bats. “And that got us riled up. We all did good at the plate. I was just able to get a hold of one early.”
By the second inning South had a 4-0 lead, courtesy of Matt Ingold’s RBI single and a Lexington error.
“We didn’t play real well early,” said Lexington coach Matt Griffin. “It would have been easy to fold it up. But Clay gave us a chance and eventually, some breaks went our way.”
Watson came out of the game trailing 6-2 after seven innings. And Snow seemed headed for a victory despite a clunky, square-wheeled performance. He was more of a plow horse than a thoroughbred, laboring through seven innings and about 120 pitches, allowing two runs on six hits and eight walks.
“Snow pitched OK,” said Griffin. “He worked out of some tough jams.”
South’s bullpen had no such luck. Alex Ingold faced only four batters ó each eventually scored ó without recording an out. Ashby was summoned from left field and quickly got two outs. But he walked the next four hitters ó including Redmond on a 3-0 pitch that made it 7-6 ó before fanning Zach Joyce to close the inning.
“I knew I was going to take until he threw me a strike,” said Redmond, who walked five times. “But he never did.”
Afterward, South’s players adopted the attitude that this was only one game in what may become a five-game series.
“You can’t dwell on it too much,” Wright said. “If we do that, we’re not gonna fare too well. We’ve just got to come back and finish the deal tomorrow.”
NOTES: South lefty Cam Park (4-1, 4.04 ERA) will face Lexington’s Jordan Hudson in Game 2 tonight in Landis. … South turned two double plays and had 11 hits, including a solo home run by Weston Church in the top of the fifth inning. Teammate Matt Ingold went 3-for-3. … Shore reeled in the catch-of-the-day when he chased down a screeching, third-inning drive by Zack Briggs in front of the scoreboard in right-center field.