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Legion Baseball: Mocksville 11, South Rowan 1

By David Shaw
dshaw@salisburypost.com
MOCKSVILLE ó Right from the start, pitching was a problem Saturday for South Rowan’s American Legion baseball team.
Post 185/146 came down with a staff infection at Rich Park, where Mocksville gained an abbreviated 11-1 victory and prevented South from moving into a tie for first place in the Southern Division standings.
“I’m gonna give their hitters the credit,” South coach Michael Lowman said after Mocksville scored 10 runs on 12 hits in the first three innings. “They came out swinging the bats. They hit like they knew what was coming.”
The defeat left South (8-3, 6-3) in second place, a full game behind league-leading Rowan with seven division games remaining.
“Being the middle of the season, we’re not really worried about that right now,” infielder Matt Ingold said. “Maybe later in the year we’ll look back at this game as one we wish we could have back.”
Mocksville (7-7, 4-6) quickly wrapped its arms around this one, squeezed tight and never let go. Post 54 jumped on South starter Jordan Lowder, beginning with Zack Russell-Myers’ two-run homer in the bottom of the first inning.
“It kind of looked like I was showing off because I just stood there and watched it,” said Russell-Myers, who pounded a first-pitch fastball from Lowder over the left-field wall. “But seriously, I thought it was a popup. It just took off.”
So did his teammates an inning later. After South trimmed its deficit to 2-1 on a sacrifice fly by Tyler Freeze, Mocksville scored four times in the second inning and four more in the third.
“When Russell-Myers hit that home run, that sparked us,” winning pitcher D.J. Webb said. “I knew it was gone right away. And after that we kept hitting the ball hard, played good defense and everything came together for us.”
Lowder was chased without retiring a batter in the second inning. Lefty Nich Glass relieved and yielded run-scoring hits to Hernan Bautista and Ryan Carter. In the third he was tagged for four runs ó two of them unearned ó as Mocksville batted around for the second straight inning.
Left-hander Zach Wright, South’s third pitcher, turned off the spigot over the final three innings. He struck out four and yielded only an unearned run when Clint Howell scored on Tyler King’s sixth-inning groundout.
When it was over, South made a quick exit, focusing on tonight’s home game against Lexington rather than the 10 hits it collected against Webb and the chances it squandered.
“We just left too many runners on base,” leadoff batter Blake Houston said after going 4-for-4. “But Webb threw strikes and got a lot of ground balls. That helped them out.”
Webb, the West Rowan fireman, struck out five, walked none, induced nine groundouts and scattered 10 hits in seven innings. He worked out of jams in nearly every inning, especially the fourth and fifth when South’s first two batters collected base hits.
Afterward, Webb made sure to thank his fielders ó particularly center-fielder Matt Leonard, who reeled in the catch-of-the-day when he snagged Julio Zubillaga’s line drive at the wall in with a runner on in the top of the seventh.
“That saved me right there,” he smiled afterward. “That kept us in it.”
Leonard’s catch, followed by a game-ending grounder, left South’s players scratching their heads.
“We just need to make the playoffs,” Lowman said. “It’s good to get a high seed, but we just need to get in. We’re better than we showed tonight.”

NOTES: Second-baseman Maverick Miles was excused to play in the State Games. … Ingold went 3-for-3 and lifted his average to .375. … Brett Huffman’s second-inning double was South’s only extra-base hit.

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