Legion baseball: South Rowan 13, Lexington 3
By Mike London
LEXINGTON ó Informed that South Rowan’s Legion team was 5-0 for the first time in the program’s 14-season history, new coach Michael Lowman quickly looked around for some wood to knock on.
He settled for tapping his knuckles lightly on the visitors dugout at Holt-Moffitt Field.
Lowman’s team didn’t tap anything lightly on Sunday, battering Lexington 13-3 in eight innings and roughing up Clay Watson, a good Catawba right-hander. South had 18 hits, 15 against Watson, who was knocked out in the sixth. Red-hot Ryan Bostian led the onslaught with four hits.
“Yeah, I guess we’ll be undefeated forever if we stop playing right now,” Lowman said with a laugh. “We’ve been fortunate to face some teams that don’t have all their players yet. But at the same time, we’re swinging the bats very well and we’re building up some confidence.”
Watson breezed through seven innings against South last summer in a 22-4 romp at Holt-Moffitt Field so this was quite a turnaround.
Lexington doesn’t have its contingent of North Davidson players yet, but it still put a good lineup, featuring West Davidson standouts Alex Grubb, Jordan Hudson and Zach Burkhart, on the field.
The key moment in the game came in the bottom of the first inning. South starting pitcher Jordan Lowder, an Appalachian student who’s trying to get back into a baseball groove after many months away from the game, was having an awful time.
Lowder threw 41 pitches in a first inning that lasted 41 minutes. Lexington scored three times that inning with the help of two walks, and Lowman was about one bad pitch away from pulling Lowder.
“Thank goodness I didn’t,” Lowman said. “Jordan was struggling but we’d used so many pitchers Saturday (seven in a 17-15 win against Mocksville) that I decided to leave him in.”
After that rocky first, Lowder put up nothing but zeroes. He left to an ovation in the sixth. By that time, South (5-0, 3-0) had a 10-3 lead.
“The coaches have been preaching pitching to contact, and I just decided to do that,” Lowder said. “I let them hit the ball, and our defense was great.”
South’s defense, shaky on Saturday, was ridiculously good on Sunday. It was as good a defensive game as South’s ever played.
Turning in web gems were shortstop Matt Ingold, second baseman Maverick Miles, and all three outfielders ó Caleb Shore, Bostian and Blake Houston.
Bostian, a center fielder who just finished his freshman year at Montreat, produced the highlight, somehow chasing down a ball that Grubb absolutely crushed to right-center and plucking it from the air on the dead run. Willie Mays would have applauded. Bostian must have run 40 yards.
“Off the bat, I didn’t think there was any way to catch that one,” Bostian said. “But it stayed in the air a long time, and I got there.”
Lexington’s third inning told the story. Burkhart led off. He mashed a pitch to right that seemed sure to leave the park. Houston raced back and caught it at the fence.
Barrett Clodfelter followed by ripping a pitch that crashed onto the treacherous bank in left field. Shore, recently arrived from Belmont Abbey, scrambled up the incline and threw a strike to second to nail Clodfelter, who was seeking a double.
Demetri Gilmore was next. He smacked a pitch toward right. It was a sure base hit. South second baseman Maverick Miles covered ground and threw him out.
Lowder got relief help from Preston Penninger, who retired all four batters he faced, and from Dylan Walker, who struck out two in the eighth to close things out.
“Lowder threw strikes and the relievers threw strikes,” Bostian said. “That’s just what we needed.”
Bostian lined the ball all over the park, driving a double down the left-field line on an inside curve and smacking a two-run double just inside the chalk on the right-field line. The double to right scored Tyler Freeze and Randy Shepherd and put South ahead 4-3 in the second inning.
Bostian scored four runs and knocked in three. In his last three games, he’s 9-for-14.
Shore knocked in three runs with a groundout, sac fly and double. Shepherd had three hits. Miles, Houston, Freeze and Julio Zubillaga had two hits each. Brett Huffman had an RBI double in the eighth that helped invoke the 10-run rule.
“Our hitters did a good job,” Lowman said. “We know Clay is a good control pitcher and we knew he’d be in the strike zone. Guys went up there looking to swing the bats.”
South seeks its sixth in a row tonight at home against Stanly.