Legion Baseball: Randolph 14, South Rowan 5
By Mike London
ASHEBORO ó Eight South Rowan players sported Mohawks in an impressive display of team unity, but things careened straight downhill right after player introductions.
As good as unity is, rest is even better, and a fresh Randolph County team battered South 14-5 to open a best-of-seven, third-round playoff series that will determine one of Area III’s two state-tournament representatives.
South (21-14) had finished a draining five-game series against Southern Division No. 1 seed Lexington 24 hours earlier. It still had decent energy, but its arms were spent.
Dylan Walker made his first start on the mound and allowed 11 runs, 14 hits, three homers and six stolen bases.
Walker hung in there for six innings at McCrary Park. Alex Ingold pitched the seventh and eighth, and South dodged the 10-run rule.
“We knew coming into this series we had to get some innings from someone, and Dylan gave us that,” South coach David Wright said. “If he’d been able to throw his curveball for a strike, he’d have had a chance to hold them down. We knew it would be tough. They had their No. 1 (Steven Davis) waiting.”
Randy Shepherd hit a two-run homer in the second inning for a short-lived 2-1 South lead, but the game wasn’t in serious doubt after Randolph (28-8) batted around and put up seven runs in the third.
“It’s a bad start, but we also started out bad against Lexington,” Shepherd said.
Randolph’s Davis had a decent night. Besides being the winning pitcher, he knocked in six runs. Catcher Josh Hohn had four hits, including two doubles and a homer.
“Still, it’s not like we played that bad,” Wright said. “If we take advantage of the opportunities we had to score a whole bunch of runs, we’ve still got a shot.”
South had runners at second and third with one out in the fourth and had a chance to slice into a 7-3 deficit, but third baseman Nolan Seawell stabbed Ryan Bostian’s hot grounder and threw Brett Huffman out at home.
The backbreaker was the top of the fifth when South loaded the bases with no outs on a walk and infield hits by Maverick Miles and Matt Ingold.
But Davis struck out Shepherd and got a grounder from Huffman that second baseman Tyler McSwain fielded right on the bag and turned into a routine double play.
South lefty Cam Park (5-1) will pitch tonight in Asheboro, and the series is a long way from over. South gets Games 3 and 4 at home where it has won six in a row, including four straight in the playoffs.
“Whether that scoreboard says 2-1 or 100-0, this was just one game,” Randolph coach Ronnie Pugh said. “I had a chance to see South’s last two games with Lexington, and I know what they can do. I feel like we’ve been pitted against a really hot team, and you can bank on it that they’ll be a different team in Game 2.”