Legion team drops game to Shelby
By Bret Strelow
GREENVILLE ó A dive and a drive helped Shelby force a second championship game against Rowan County at the American Legion state tournament this afternoon.
A four-run top of the ninth inning pushed Shelby to a 7-3 victory. Julian Ridings pulled the first pitch from reliever Cody Laws over the right-field fence at East Carolina’s Clark-LeClair Stadium for a tiebreaking homer. The next two pitches resulted in a single and double.
An intentional walk loaded the bases, and an error following a grounder to third kept Rowan from getting the forceout at home. The last two runs scored on a sacrifice fly and squeeze bunt.
A fantastic play by Shelby second baseman Julian Bridges prevented Rowan from taking a lead into the ninth inning.
Trailing 3-2, Rowan’s Russell Michalec opened the bottom of the eighth with a single. Zach Smith sent an RBI triple into the right-field corner, forcing Shelby to play the infield in against Jon Crucitti.
Bridges made a diving stop on a sharp grounder hit to his left, and Smith hesitated before breaking toward home. Bridges bounced to his feet and threw a perfect strike to catcher Kyle Kendrick, who tagged Smith before he could slip his right hand over a corner of the plate.
“I knew I wasn’t going to let that ball go through the infield so they could get a run,” Bridges said. “I just laid out and caught the ball and made a great throw to home. I knew I had enough time because with the ball hit hard the runner would be thinking, ‘Should I go or not?’ with the infield in.”
The only runs Rowan managed before the eighth inning came on a two-run, two-out bloop single by Noah Holmes in the third.
Shelby right-hander Adam Izokovic, who struck out 11 in a complete-game victory Sunday, handcuffed Rowan’s righty hitters with his sidearm motion.
Left-handed hitters produced six of Rowan’s seven hits through seven innings. Right-handed batters were 1-for-14 against Izokovic before Michalec and Smith sparked the eighth-inning rally.
“(Izokovic) does a good job with a low arm slot and has a lot of sink to the ball,” Rowan coach Jim Gantt said. “He had a good off-speed pitch, and our guys just kept trying to hit it into that wind. We didn’t make any adjustments there until that one inning.”
Corbin Shive started on the mound for Rowan and allowed two earned runs in eight innings.
See complete details in Thursday’s Post