Legion Baseball: Concord 6, Rowan 5: Game took 12 innings, four hours
By David Shaw
CONCORD ó Four hours of frustration and missed opportunities finally got the best of Rowan County’s American Legion baseball team on Friday.
Rowan kept everyone up late before suffering a 6-5, 12-inning loss at Concord.
“We hadn’t been able to play in a while,” said losing coach Jim Gantt. “So we figured we’d play all night.”
Don’t laugh. The teams might still be playing if Concord hadn’t scored an unearned run with two outs in the bottom of the 12th, ending the marathon at 11:45 p.m.
First-place Rowan (7-2 overall) was beaten for the first time in six Southern Division games. The locals stranded 13 baserunners, including two in scoring position in the top of the 12th.
“We had our chances,” Gantt said. “We just couldn’t execute at the end.”
Concord (7-7, 5-6) gained its fourth straight division victory and fifth overall when Michael Tancini scored from second base on a throwing error by Rowan shortstop Preston Troutman. Ironically, it was Troutman who took the loss on the mound despite allowing no earned runs and fanning eight batters in 32/3 innings of tight-rope relief.
“You can’t fault Troutman,” said Gantt. “He gave us everything he had. That last throw just sailed on him a little bit.”
Gantt used six pitchers who combined for 21 strikeouts ó nine by starter Billy Veal, who bulldozed his way into the sixth inning. Rowan rallied for three runs in the top of ninth to tie the score 5-5. Pinch-hitter Matt Miller opened the frame with a home run down the right-field line against Post 51 starter Dalton Shuford. Philip Miclat legged out an infield hit and Veal coaxed a two-out walk before Trey Holmes delivered a game-tying, two-run double to left.
Rowan, which managed only seven hits, put two runners on base in the 10th inning and two more in the 12th, but failed to score again.
Gantt felt Shuford was a difference maker. The right-hander used a heavy fastball to induce 14 groundouts in 81/3 innings, throwing a total of 130 pitches.
“Their pitcher was outstanding,” Gantt said. “He made us defensive at the plate. We looked like we were hitting with two strikes on us all the team. He just overpowered us.”
Concord associate coach Jaymie Russ agreed.
“That’s his thing,” he said. “When he’s throwing strikes, that’s what he does. Tonight he was an ace.”
Shuford also belted his fourth home run, driving a first-pitch fastball from Veal over the left-field wall leading off the Concord sixth. Three pitches later Post 51 had a 3-2 lead, courtesy of Brandon Porter’s first homer.
The hosts extended their lead to 5-2 against Rowan fireman Nick Smith in the bottom of the seventh, when Porter and Kyle Kiker delivered RBI singles.
That set the stage for RC’s ninth-inning rally and 12th-inning near miss. Concord first-baseman Garrett Furr made a terrific defensive play when he charged from the right side and fielded Troutman’s bunt attempt, then fired to third base to force Rowan’s Corbin Shive.
“That made a big difference,” Gantt said. “But you can think of a million things you’d like to do over in a one-run loss. They did enough of them to win. We didn’t.”