Legion Baseball: Rowan 13, South Rowan 12
By Mike London
LANDIS ó When Jon Crucitti squeezed Caleb Shore’s flyball in center field, Rowan County had a 13-12 victory against South Rowan in Tuesday’s wild Legion game.
Rowan (5-1, 4-0) now leads the all-time series 25-6, but South nearly erased a 10-run deficit in its last three at-bats. Reliever Cody Laws, the last of five Rowan pitchers, nailed down the final out that moved Rowan into first place in the Southern Division of Area III.
It was the first loss of the season for South (6-1, 4-1).
“We go up by 10 runs in the seventh and expected to end it early,” Crucitti said. “But then South clawed back.”
Rowan’s Zach Smith and Billy Veal had four hits each to lead a 15-hit assault on six South hurlers.
Ryan Bostian had three of South’s 14 hits.
Crucitti and Bostian hit the game’s only homers.
“There’s really no excuse for what happened once we had the lead,” Rowan coach Jim Gantt said. “We got behind in some counts, made some bad pitches, played some bad defense. It was not a well-played game at all.”
The first six innings were tame. Corbin Shive was on the mound for Rowan, and a pair of RBI singles by Smith and a two-run homer by Crucitti off South starting pitcher Dylan Walker staked the Charlotte-bound right-hander to a 6-3 lead. Only strong relief work by Preston Penninger kept South from getting blown out.
“Corbin was good, had his stuff,” South coach Michael Lowman said. “But I thought we were doing a pretty good job of hanging in the game.”
Rowan had two out and none on in the seventh when South failed to make a routine play on Austin Shull’s bouncer to third. It took another 30 minutes to get the third out. South made two more errors. Crucitti delivered a key double. Rowan put together a seven-run frame out of nowhere.
“Two out, none on, and then the circus comes to town,” Lowman said. “We should be batting down 6-3. Instead, it’s 13-3.”
Fans were considering the possibility of the 10-run rule when Nick Smith, who had relieved Shive, hung a curveball to Bostian to start the bottom of the seventh. Bostian launched it in the general direction of Mars.
“We didn’t want that 10-run rule,” Bostian said. “Not with Rowan.”
South started swinging the bats. Tyler Freeze had a two-run double to cap a four-run inning. It was 13-7.
“Bostian’s homer set the tone for a comeback,” Crucitti said. “After that, the question was not whether we were going to play the eighth, it was a question of whether or not we could hold on and win the game.”
Rowan reliever Preston Troutman sailed through the eighth, but his defense faltered in the ninth. South took advantage of three errors to score five runs. South had the tying and winning runs on base when Shore flied out to Crucitti.
“If we could cancel out that one big inning they had we win,” Bostian said. “We were so close to getting it done.”