Legion Baseball World Series: Rain halts Rowan County

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 14, 2009

By Bret Strelow
FARGO, N.D. ó Heavy evening storms forced the postponement of Rowan County’s first game at the American Legion World Series until this morning.
Rowan (37-8) and Festus (39-4) will likely begin the final opening-round contest at no earlier than 10 a.m. EST today. Officials need to monitor how a tarped Newman Outdoor Field holds up in the rain, and a concrete start time will be established during an early morning coaches meeting.
“With the weather like this, there’s nothing you can do about it,” Rowan coach Jim Gantt said Friday night as soaked center fielder Jon Crucitti rushed to retrieve equipment from the visiting dugout. “The storms come in, it’s obvious we can’t play. It’s lightning bad, and the rain is terrible. Good thing it’s not cold or it’d be a blizzard.”
The pushed-back schedule could alter pitching for both sides.
Rowan’s Corbin Shive and Festus’ Matt Stites, staff aces who pitched afternoon games on the final day of their regional tournaments, were not scheduled to start on short rest Friday. Rowan’s Forrest Buchanan (9-0) and Travis Hayes (10-1) would have thrown, but the postponement gives Shive (8-0) and Stites (10-0) four full days of rest.
Stites, a 5-foot-10 right-hander, has a 0.91 ERA with 121 strikeouts in 841/3 innings.
Gantt and Festus coach Pat Bone both said switches are possible.
“We’ll just have to evaluate that, but we could change our lineup with our pitching,” Gantt said.
The loser of the Rowan-Festus matchup would likely play again today at approximately 4:30 p.m. EST against Mid-Atlantic Regional champion Mt. Airy Post 191 out of Maryland. Mt. Airy (38-16) fell 3-2 in its opener against Texarkana (Texas) on Friday.
The Rowan-Festus winner, time and weather permitting, would meet Texarkana (29-4) with a possible start time of 11:30 p.m. EST based on standard game length.
“The tough thing will be to play two games,” Gantt said. “We’ll just do what we can.”
A banquet with appearances from former Major League stars Bob Feller (the first American Legion graduate elected to the Hall of Fame) and Rick Helling (a 20-game winner for Texas in 1998 who played in the 1989 American Legion World Series with Fargo Post 2) preceded the opening day of competition.
Defending champion Southern Nevada allowed a run in the bottom of the ninth inning but won 8-7 against Berlin (Conn.) in the first game Friday. T.J. White led the Titans (63-12) with four hits.
Texarkana pulled out its one-run victory against Mt. Airy in the second contest. Texarkana broke a 1-1 tie in the bottom of the eighth but gave up a leadoff homer to Jake Ringold in the ninth. Texarkana’s John Stillson hit a walkoff double with one out in the bottom of the ninth.
Eric Dawson delivered the go-ahead single in the sixth inning for Midland (Mich.) in its 4-2 victory against Medford (Ore.).