Legion plays Thursday
The Rowan County American Legion team opens play in the double-elimination Southeast Regional against host team Sumter, S.C., on Thursday night.
Rowan (33-7) won its seventh state title recently at Greenville, with the current club joining the 1955, 1969, 1971, 1984, 1993 and 2002 teams as state champs. Rowan pitching came through in a big way, with all nine arms contributing. Billy Veal, who pitched eight sharp innings against Cherryville and saved the final game against Shelby, was as important as anyone. Cody Laws had three good relief outings and notched two saves. Parker Gobbel won twice in relief.
Starters Corbin Shive (6-0), Veal (5-0), Forrest Buchanan (8-0) and Nick Smith (5-0) remained unbeaten. Preston Troutman made a strong start in the decisive game against Shelby.Trey Holmes, Noah Holmes, Russell Michalec, Zach Smith, Jon Crucitti, Austin Shull and Casey Little provided quality offensive production.
The games in Sumter will be played at Riley Park, which has a capacity of about 2,000. It’s a park with lots of history. It opened in 1934.
Riley Park was the home of the minor league Sumter Braves at one time, but presently it’s home only to the Sumter P-15s American Legion program, Morris College and USC Sumter, a junior college.
Sumter’s biggest contribution to the baseball world is Bobby Richardson, who was the New York Yankees second baseman in the late 1950s and first half of the 1960s.
The local legion program has a connection with Sumter. The legendary 1955 Salisbury Legion squad won a double-elimination sectional tourney in Sumter on its way to the World Series. Lefty Tom Eaton threw a no-hitter against North Charleston. Then he beat New Orleans twice.