Legion baseball: Concord 5, South 3
By Mike London
LANDIS — South Rowan came up empty on Friday — even with Matt Miller on the mound.
Concord got four hits and two RBIs from smoking-hot Catawba signee Anthony Allende and beat South 5-3. The one time South got Allende out, his vicious line drive nearly carried shortstop Gunnar Hogan into left field.
Allende has two homers and 10 hits in his last three ballgames, and it’s no coincidence that Concord (7-6, 6-5) has won all three.
“That baseball must look like a beachball to Anthony right now,” Concord coach Jaymie Russ said. “Even when he doesn’t square it up, he’s finding a hole. And he’s playing great third base. Some people don’t think he can do that when they look at him (the stocky Allende looks a catcher), but he has great hands and great feet. He makes the plays.”
Miller didn’t get hit hard — except by Allende — but Concord’s three-run third proved decisive. Concord bunched three hits, a walk and an RBI groundout to erase an early 3-1 deficit and beat Miller, who had pitched brilliantly in his two previous outings.
“It’s difficult,” Miller said. “I felt a little tired for some reason, and I just wasn’t on tonight at all. Baseball doesn’t always go your way. Tonight was one of those nights.”
Allende doubled and scored in the second, although Miller dodged a potential big inning.
South, which had a modest two-game winning streak snapped, mustered its only offense against Concord lefty Stephen Gilmore in the bottom of the second. Dylan Walker led off that inning with an opposite-field liner that cleared the short porch in left.
“I heard (Coach Michael) Lowman yelling to get two and I was running hard, but I knew it was a homer when I heard my mother screaming,” Walker said.
It was Walker’s second homer and tied him with Hogan for the team lead. South (6-12, 5-8) has just seven longballs in 18 games after mashing 49 on its way to a regular-season division title in 2010.
Miller reached on an infield hit in the second and scored on Weston Smith’s double. Smith advanced on a base knock by Dylan Goodman and scored South’s third — and final — run on a solid hit by Connor Bridges.
Miller pitched three shutout innings after the disastrous third. Then Patrick Hampton shut out Concord in the seventh and eighth.
But South left the bases loaded in the fifth — Smith bounced out to end the inning — and couldn’t get a bunt down in the eighth after Smith reached on an HBP to start the frame.
Allende finally broke the ice, singling home insurance against Dillon Atwell in the ninth for a 5-3 lead. Concord would’ve scored two, but Walker threw out a runner at the plate, with Joseph Basinger making a nice tag.
Jonathan Martin closed it out in style for Concord with three scoreless innings.
“Our pitching went just the way I had it drawn up in my head,” Russ said. “Gilmore for six — Martin for three. That doesn’t happen very often.”
Hogan singled to start the ninth, but when Walker lined out hard to the shortstop, that was the last straw for South.
“I thought it was through, but that’s how it’s gone for us,” Walker said. “Not a lot of balls have gone through.”
While South wasn’t very lucky, Lowman wasn’t interested in discussing four-leaf clovers and rabbit’s feet.
“To win games, we don’t need better luck, we need to play better baseball,” he said quietly. “We should’ve scored more runs, but we chased a lot of high pitches and let their starter settle in.”