Legion Baseball Southeast Regional: Alabama 8, Rowan 7
By Bret Strelow
SUMTER, S.C. ó The third late-inning celebration near home plate signaled more harm than charm for Rowan County.
Rob McWhirter’s two-run single with two away in the bottom of the ninth inning lifted Tuscaloosa (Ala.) to an 8-7 victory against Rowan on the second day of the Southeast Regional at Riley Park.
A two-run homer by Cameron Carlisle in the bottom of the eighth inning erased Tuscaloosa’s 4-3 deficit, but Rowan (33-8) jumped ahead 7-6 on Zach Smith’s three-run homer in the ninth.
“I don’t really know how it’s going to affect us,” Rowan coach Jim Gantt said. “It could have been real easy to just give up after we got down two runs, but they bounced right back. The guys didn’t like it, they sat there for a minute and got themselves back up. They played hard and gave everything they got.”
Rowan reliever Nick Smith retired the first two batters he faced in the bottom of the ninth, but Chase Fields and Jake Vickerson reached on back-to-back singles. They moved up 90 feet on a wild pitch.
McWhirter, batting ahead of Carlisle in the order, hit a high chopper up the middle on a 3-2 pitch. Second baseman Philip Miclat, ranging far to his right, couldn’t keep the ball from going into center field.
“I knew 3-2 with two outs I was going to see a fastball,” McWhirter said. “Cameron Carlisle hit that two-run homer the last time and he was behind me, so they didn’t want to avoid me to get him up.”
Tuscaloosa (49-6) added an insurance run in the eighth following Carlisle’s homer, but Rowan answered with its own rally.
Facing reliever Justin Kamplain, Trey Holmes popped up the first pitch. The ball barely reached the outfield grass, but it fell in for a single because of miscommunication between shortstop Jon McKinney and center fielder Coy Arrowood.
Russell Michalec drew a seven-pitch walk, and Zach Smith fouled off a 2-2 offering before drilling a shot over the wall in left field.
The homers by Carlisle and Smith were the second and third, respectively, in eight tournament games.
“The ball doesn’t carry real good here,” Smith said. “I was surprised, but I put a pretty good swing on it.”
The final homer didn’t hold up, and Rowan will need to defeat Irmo-Chapin (S.C.) Post 193 today in a game scheduled for 1 p.m. to stay alive in the double-elimination event.
Irmo-Chapin (22-12) lost 3-0 to Conyers (Ga.) on Thursday and won 10-0 against Shelbyville (Tenn.) in an eight-inning affair Friday morning.