Legion Baseball: Mooresville 10, South Rowan 4
By Mike London
MOORESVILLE ó There were two outs on the scoreboard when Mooresville’s Billy Nantz mashed a majestic homer to left in the eighth inning.
There were also two outs on the board when the third-seeded Moors made everything else happen in a 10-4 win against South Rowan on Friday night at the Mooresville diamond.
Mooresville picked up two first-inning runs on a pair of hits and back-to-back groundouts. Its final eight runs came after South pitchers already had two outs in the books.
“We showed the most life we have all season,” Mooresville coach Josh Graham said. “Maybe we’ve figured some things out. We made it look easy beating a good ballclub.”
The Moors (13-8) got eight strong innings from right-hander Wes Dumford and five RBIs from Nantz to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series. They’ll go for the clincher tonight at South.
Second-seeded South, which left 16 on base in Game 1, was the opposite of clutch again, wasting 14 hits, including three each by Blake Houston, Maverick Miles and Ryan Bostian. South (17-8) scored only once with two away ó when Bostian’s RBI single in the third chased Houston home.
Mooresville (13-8) was actually in some danger of finishing ninth in a nine-team division and missing the playoffs, but it has now put together an eight-game winning streak.
“We weren’t in a very good situation most of the regular season,” Mooresville first baseman Brantley Horton said. “But we finally turned it around, and now we’re starting to get some bounces and some good pitching.”
Mooresville’s two quick runs put South in a hole it never got out of. South coach Michael Lowman saw Mooresville’s three-run fourth inning that stretched a 3-1 lead to 6-1 as the key to the game.
Trouble began after South starter Will Misenheimer couldn’t put away No. 8 hitter Jacob Mays with two out and one on. The sidearmer walked Mays.
No. 9 man Chase LeVan followed that harmless-looking walk with a run-scoring single. Leadoff man Nathan Abraham produced another RBI single for a 5-1 lead. Then Misenheimer hit Eric Manser with a pitch to end his night. Randy Shepherd relieved and struck Nantz with a pitch to force in Mooresville’s third two-out run of the inning.
Once Shepherd settled in, he pitched fine. He put up zeroes in the fifth, sixth and seventh, giving South every chance to rally but it didn’t happen.
South used a double steal and a sac fly by Tyler Freeze in the sixth to crawl within 6-2, but that was as tight as it got.
“We hit balls right at ’em,” Miles said. “They hit it well, while we couldn’t catch a break.”
Dumford, making only his second start, allowed 12 hits, but he retired cleanup man Caleb Shore, No. 1 in homers and No. 2 in RBIs in South history, three times in key situations.
Shore grounded into a force play to strand two in the third, struck out with runners at second and third to end the fifth, and hit a two-on, one-out liner that second baseman Mays turned into a double play in the seventh. That was the backbreaker.
Miles’ two-run double to right in the ninth only made the final score a bit more respectable.
“We couldn’t seem to get a leadoff man on, and Mooresville was just better than we were,” Lowman said. “They pitched it better. They got bigger hits.”
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