Legion Baseball: Randolph 7, South Rowan 6
By David Shaw
ASHEBORO ó The bell has tolled for South Rowan and its 2008 American Legion baseball season.
Post 185/146 clocked out Saturday night when it fell 7-6 to host Randolph County and lost its third-round series four-games-to-one.
“We battled, but for the second year in a row, it’s hard to leave it here,” losing pitcher Ryan Bostian said at McCrary Park, where South (22-17) was erased from the postseason picture. “We had opportunities all through the game ó and the series. We just didn’t take them.”
That was a recurring theme in the week-long set. SR, which split its 14 playoff games, left seven runners in scoring position last night. The game ended when Friday night hero Caleb Shore was thrown out attempting to steal second base in the top of the ninth inning.
“I had the green light,” he said. “And I knew I had to steal sometime during that at-bat. The throw had to be perfect and it was.”
The bang-bang play wrapped up a memorable, if somewhat controversial, series. South coach David Wright questioned the scheduling procedure and would like to see changes made by Area III powers-that-be. Randolph coach Ronnie Pugh mentioned the word “spite” before and after the series finale.
“No team in youth sports should have to go through what this team did,” he said after Post 45 (32-9) secured a berth in the state tournament. “When you do things out of spite, everybody loses. That’s what happened this week and it’s what happened tonight.”
So did a pretty good ballgame. South dug itself a 4-0 hole after three innings and spent the rest of the evening playing catch-up ó but never did. Randolph collected 13 hits, six of them for extra bases, and received solo home runs from Hunter Ridge and Nolan Seawell. South inched within a run on three occasions, the last when pinch-hitter Walker Snow drilled an eighth-inning fastball from Tyler McSwain off the Blue Mist Barbecue sign attached to the left-field foul pole.
“We needed baserunners. Walker provided a home run,” South’s Ivan Corriher said. “We were in it the whole game. We just couldn’t make it happen in the end.”
Bostian was still suffering from a sprained side when he took the mound. He bulldogged his way through 42/3 innings but was yanked after surrendering six runs on 10 hits.
“I’m hurting,” he reported after a trainer taped his midsection. “I did the best I could, but these guys, they could hit anything. Whether I worked inside or out, they hit my stuff.”
Weston Church relieved Bostian and tried to smooth the edges. The only run he allowed in 32/3 innings came on the first pitch he threw in the sixth ó which Seawell promptly deposited over the left-field wall for a 7-5 Randolph lead.
“The ball does carry well here,” Church said. “They were dead-red hitters who liked to swing and swing hard. They drove it around the park.”
Randolph’s third and final pitcher was Ethan Marsh, a right-hander with an inscinerating low-90’s heater. He struck out each of the first three men he faced before Shore coaxed a two-out walk in the bottom of the ninth. But on the first delivery to South’s Brett Huffman, Randolph catcher Josh Hohn nailed Shore by a nose at second base.
Pugh had nothing but praise for South’s players afterward.
“They played their hearts out,” he said. “They have so much class ó and that makes for great baseball.”
Wright, meanwhile, tossed verbal bouquets in several directions after South’s season had ended.
“We had our chances,” he said. “You can’t ask for any more. But it seemed like when they scored runs, they did it easily. That’s the sign of a good team. When we scored, everything was hard to come by. That made a big difference.”
NOTES: South Rowan’s Maverick Miles went 2-for-5 and closed the season on a 19-game hitting streak. … The Coastal League Copperheads forfeited their scheduled game with Columbia to accomodate Post 45.