Legion Baseball: Stanly 5, Rowan 4
By David Shaw
ALBEMARLE ó Stanly County’s American Legion baseball team may have given top-seeded Rowan something to worry about Friday night.
Post 76 collected six extra-base hits ó including a pair of home runs by outfielder Corey Dick ó in a series-tying 5-4 victory over visiting Rowan. Game 3 of the best-of-five playoff set is scheduled tonight at Newman Park.
“Some nights you feel like you can’t be beat,” starting pitcher Billy Veal said after Rowan (20-5) had its 10-game winning streak curbed. “And sometimes things don’t go your way. Tonight just wasn’t our night.”
It got off to a bad start when Rowan arrived at Don Montgomery Park a little short on amunition.
“When we got down here, (Jon) Crucitti was the only guy who had brought his bat,” coach Jim Gantt reported. “All our other guys left their bats at home. We had to call Billy Veal’s brother (14-year old Clint) to go by there and get them. That tells you the kind of mindset we were in when we came here. We were worried about other things, I guess.”
Rowan spent the rest of the night playing like an untuned piano. It stranded 12 baserunners ó seven in scoring position ó and left the bases loaded in the first and sixth innings.
Two of its most dependable hitters ó cleanup man Crucitti and DH Corbin Shive ó each struck out three times.
“Crucitti looked like he was overmatched all night,” Gantt said. “And Shive in the first inning, he was up there with second and third and one out and he strikes out. That was big. All he had to do was put it in play and we would’ve had another run. We’ve got to have better at-bats with runners on base.”
Veal pitched soundly, but reliever Cody Laws yielded hits to three of the four batters he faced and suffered the loss. Most damaging was Dick’s second home run ó a leadoff shot over the right-field fence that snapped a 4-4 tie in the bottom of the eighth inning.
“Corey has been dangerous at the plate all year long,” said Stanly assistant coach Mark Tucker. “He goes down and gets the ball. He’s the type that can hurt you.”
Rowan found out in the sixth inning when Dick ó an Albemarle High School product ó cracked his eighth homer of the season against Veal, erasing a 4-2 RC lead.
“It wasn’t a bad pitch,” said Veal, who struck out seven and walked one in seven innings. “It was down low, but that short porch in right field ó it carried out of here. I don’t know if that ball goes out at Newman.”
Rowan built an early lead against Stanly left-hander Adrian Shepherd, a North Stanly grad headed for Pheiffer next month. Russell Michalec and Zach Smith, RC’s hottest hitters in this second-round series with six hits apiece, delivered run-scoring hits in the second inning. Then, in the fourth, Michalec lined a two-out single to left and Smith doubled him home for a two-run Rowan advantage.
But with two swings, Dick made it disappear and helped Stanly (14-11) square the series.
“There’s no use worrying about it,” Gantt concluded. “We either can do it or we can’t. All we can do is practice and get ’em in position to execute. If they come through, we win. If they don’t, we don’t.”
NOTES: Trey Holmes went 0-for-4 with a couple of infield popups, ending his 14-game hitting streak. … Probable pitchers tonight are Rowan’s Forest Buchannan and Stanly’s Wes Hatley.
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