Legion Baseball: Mooresville 8, South Rowan 5
By Bret Strelow
LANDIS ó A first-inning comebacker struck Mooresville lefty Nick Lomascolo’s throwing hand, creating cause for concern among his coaches.
Once Post 66 gained the upper hand against homestanding South Rowan, Lomascolo and reliever Preston Penninger waged a pitchers’ duel. Mooresville wound up with an 8-5 win in the opener of a second-round playoff series.
Mooresville (13-8) led 7-3 after three innings, and only one more run crossed prior to the bottom of the ninth. South (17-7) scored twice against reliever Ross Whitley but left the bases loaded.”Preston put up zeroes and gave the offense a chance to get back in it,” South coach Michael Lowman said. “He did exactly what his job was. Nick, he seemed to get tougher. The bigger the pitch, the better he was. We had some opportunities to score with the right guys up, but Nick’s a good pitcher. He may be the best pitcher in this league.”
Lomascolo, who suffered a skull fracture during warmups before Game 1 of a second-round series against Rowan County last season, allowed eight hits in eight innings Wednesday night.
South pulled within 8-5 against Whitley in the ninth thanks to a two-out error that brought Blake Houston to the plate as the tying run. He singled to load the bases for Ryan Bostian, who hit a soft line drive to shortstop Dylan West.
South stranded 16 baserunners, and it struck out seven times against Lomascolo.
“Nick’s pitch count was way up after three, and we felt like we were going to have to make a change pretty early,” Mooresville coach Josh Graham said. “He settled down and had a couple quick innings. That saved us getting him to the eighth.”
South trailed 2-0 going to the bottom of the second, when Brett Huffman belted a solo homer to center and Maverick Miles hit a 100-foot sac fly.
Lomascolo and catcher Aaron Meadows drifted toward South’s dugout as first baseman Brantley Horton went into foul territory to catch a popup. Zach Wright tagged up at third with home uncovered, sprinted down the line and beat a throw to the plate.South starter Dylan Walker (1-2) issued a walk to begin the third and gave up a two-run homer to Meadows as part of a five-run outburst.
Walker, who had started against Mooresville in the regular season and earned a win with five-plus innings of effective work, got the nod because Will Misenheimer hadn’t recovered fully from his last outing.
Penninger replaced Walker with one away in the third, allowed two inherited runners to score, then gave up an RBI single that impacted his line.
An inning-ending grounder started a stretch in which Penninger retired 12 of 14 batters, and one reached on an error.
The only extra-base hits in the game were the two homers.
“I was just trying to get ahead early in the count and throw strikes,” Penninger said. “After I got settled in I was able to throw strikes more often.”