Legion Baseball: Rowan 5, Randolph 4
By Jordan Honeycutt
ASHEBORO — The favorite television channel of the Rowan County American Legion baseball team must be TNT…because they sure love drama!
Rowan entered the ninth at McCrary Park trailing Randolph County 4-2 and had not scored a run since Andy Austin’s scoreboard denting two-run smash way back in the first inning.
Then, Nathan Fulbright delivered.
The Rowan catcher laced a double down the left-field line after Luke Thomas singled to lead off the final inning.
“He had been working me inside and out all night and I was lucky enough to get my hands in on one and pull it down the line,” Fulbright said.
Following Fulbright’s double, “small ball,” along with some help from control issues from the home team, allowed Rowan to escape with a 5-4 victory.
“Our guys went into the ninth and did what they should have been doing all night long, and that is being patient,” Rowan coach Jim Gantt said. “If we could get these guys to pick out pitches and stay patient all game, we would be in even better shape than we are now.”
Selectiveness definitely reared its head for Rowan as pinch-hitter Jared Mathis drew a bases loaded walk off Randolph’s Hunter Jobe that drove in Fulbright to tie the game, and Justin Morris was beaned with the sacks jacked to score what turned out to be the winning run in Taylor Garczynski.
Even with Rowan’s big top of the ninth, Randolph still had one last chance.
Not too much of one it turned out, as Will Johnson entered and did what Will Johnson does — close the door.
Johnson struck out the first two batters he faced, before getting right-fielder Avery Jackson to pop up to end it.
Rowan also received a brilliant effort from its starting pitcher, Matt Laurens.
“I felt like I had really good stuff tonight and I wasn’t trying to strike guys out,” Laurens said. “I just tried my best to keep it low and get ground balls but I’ll take the K’s.”
Laurens, who isn’t typically known as a power pitcher, struck out nine batters and allowed four runs, only two of which were earned.
“Matt threw great tonight,” Gantt said. “I just hate that our defense couldn’t back him up better, because he definitely pitched well enough to win.”
Gantt has recognized his team’s pattern of starting off strong and finishing strong, but being a bit lackluster in the middle innings.
“I don’t know for sure what it is, but if I had to say one thing, I believe it definitely has to do with the patience,” Gantt said. “If we could hit the right pitches all game long, then I think we would be a really tough team.”
Randolph County got an equally impressive performance from starter Matt Reynolds.
Reynolds shut Rowan out from the second inning through the seventh, only allowing the two-run bomb to Austin in the first.
“I thought that it was a well played ballgame by both teams and we saw some things that we can definitely improve upon,” Randolph County coach Ronnie Pugh said.
NOTES: These two squads will have a short time span to improve on anything as both will turn right around and play each other again tonight at Newman Park. … Rowan improves its record to (7-2), with only one of the two losses being in league play. … Asheboro falls to 9-6.
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