Legion Baseball: South Rowan 14, Wilkes 1: South sweeps
By David Shaw
LANDIS ó Smooth as a Sunday drive.
That’s the best way to characterize South Rowan’s series-clinching 14-1 victory over visiting Wilkes last night.
Post 185/146 received effective pitching from left-hander Cam Park and blasted three home runs to sweep its first-round playoff set in three games.
“We did what we should have done the whole series,” Park said after South (17-6) needed just seven innings to gain its fifth straight win and a second-round berth opposite Mooresville. “We finally got to ’em. Now we’re showing what we’re made of.”
Park certainly did. He pitched himself in and out of trouble for five innings, yielded only an unearned run and recorded his first win of the season. For his effort he received a bruised left shin, courtesy of a first-inning line drive off the bat of Wilkes’ Mike Daniels. And afterward, he received a face-full of shaving cream, courtesy of teammate Matt Ingold’s surprise attack.
“It was big for (Park) just to get out of the first inning,” said SR coach Michael Lowman. “They had first and third with none out and didn’t score. Once we put up some runs, Cameron settled down and started attacking the strike zone a little more, pitching to contact and letting his fielders make plays.”
Wilkes (8-14) squandered a chance to take an early 1-0 lead when slugger Josh Zumbrook lofted a deep fly ball that left-fielder Caleb Shore tucked away for the second out. Tagging from third base and scoring easily on the play was Jaryd Wingler. But seconds later, he was ruled out for leaving the bag too soon.
“That’s just a kid not listening to me,” said Wilkes coach Terry Johnson, positioned in the third-base coach’s box. “He left before I said, ‘Go.’ That made a little bit of a difference. We put ourselves in a bad situation by not scoring early.”
That situation worsened by mid-game, when South exploded for six runs in the bottom of the fourth inning and eight in the fifth. Ryan Bostian (2-for-3, three RBIs) started the fire with a one-out base hit in the fourth against losing pitcher Brennan Daniels. Shore made it hurt with a two-run home run to left that gave South a 2-1 lead.
Before the inning was through, Julio Zubillaga added a run-scoring hit, Zach Wright a sacrifice fly and Cory Deason ó starting at catcher in place of Tyler Freeze ó crushed a first-pitch fastball over the center field fence for a 6-1 South advantage.
“I got my shot and just wanted to make the most of it,” said Deason, limited to 14 at-bats in South’s first 22 games. “I was called out my first time up, so I was sitting on a fastball and put a good swing on it. I knew it was gone while it was still in the air.”
More post-Independence Day fireworks came in the fifth, when South sent 12 batters to the plate and collected five of its nine hits against Daniels and reliever Brett Young. Most damaging was Zach Wright’s two-out, opposite-field, three-run homer to left that made it an 11-1 ballgame. Maverick Miles had a pair of doubles in the inning while Bostian checked in with a sac fly and a two-run single.
“Sometimes it just takes a time through the lineup to see what the pitcher’s gonna do with you,” said Lowman. “Early on (Daniels) had some command on his changeup. But later he lost it and we were able to sit on the fastball.
“And this team,” he continued, “this team can hit fastballs.”
The rest was up to Park and South firemen Randy Shepherd (a scoreless sixth inning) and Bostian, who sealed the deal by fanning pinch-hitter Micah Bryan.
“In the playoffs, its survive and move on,” Lowman said. “We’re happy to be where we are. We’re playing well and look forward to playing some more.”
NOTES: Round 2, also a best-of-five, begins Wednesday at South. SR beat Mooresville (12-8) twice in regular-season games, winning 19-15 and 13-8. … Miles went 9-for-15 with four doubles in the series, lifting his average to .428. Wright, with four hits all season, homered in Games 1 and 3.