Legion baseball: Dothan 6, Rowan 4 (10 inn.)

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 25, 2011

By David Shaw
SALISBURY — Rowan County got reacquainted with an old friend Saturday night at Newman Park, but by game’s end the atmosphere was anything but friendly.
“It felt like a game against a rival,” DH Luke Thomas said after Rowan fell 6-4 in 10 innings to Dothan (Ala.). “You’re out there to win and you’ll do anything. It’s that baseball instinct that comes into play.”
Locals may recall Dothan was the team that abruptly ended Rowan’s season in the 2002 Southeast Regional. “We were 43-1 going into that game,” said RC coach Jim Gantt. “But because of the format that year, we were out after that one game, that 4-3 loss.”
Dothan (22-6) was making its eighth stop on a 3,000-mile, nine-game road trip. Post 12 has played in seven different states since departing southern Alabama on June 16. Ports-of-call have included Washington DC, Lancaster, Pa., New York’s Citi Field for a Mets-A’s game and Cooperstown’s Doubleday Field, where it gained a 3-2 over Shruboak Post 1080 on Friday. The excursion concludes today in Sumpter, S.C.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” 14th-year Dothan coach Larry Tubbs said after securing his 600th career win. “But we’re looking forward to going home.”
Dothan improved to 5-3 on its trip by scoring twice against lefty reliever Will Johnson in the top of the 10th inning. “What team does that?” questioned Rowan starter Ethan Free. “That just doesn’t happen.”
It happened after Rowan (12-6) rallied from a 4-1, eighth-inning deficit. The guests scored two runs against Free in the opening frame — one on Kevin Husum’s home run on the game’s fifth pitch and another following a pair of infield errors.
Rowan drew within 3-1 in the fourth against Dothan starter Dan Husum — Kevin’s older brother and a righthander who will transfer to Division II national champion West Florida in the fall. Taylor Garczynski (2-for-4 with a double) singled and eventually scored RC’s first run on Will Sapp’s sacrifice fly.
Down three runs in the eighth inning, Rowan got one back when Thomas reached on an error, advanced to third on Garczynski’s double and crossed when pinch-hitter Jared Mathis coaxed a two-out, bases-loaded walk.
Then came Rowan’s frantic game-tying, ninth-inning rally. “Yeah, this game was like our state championship game,” said winning pitcher Kevin Husum. “Nobody was giving up. Every pitch, you didn’t know what was gonna happen.”
Rowan spent the entire night playing catch-up and finally did when Justin Morris tripled, Dakota Brown walked and both runners scored on a throwing error.
It all went for naught when Johnson allowed his first two earned runs of the season in the top of the 10th, ending a fun-filled, momentous evening.
“We wanted to play this team in this ballpark,” Tubbs said, “because of the history, the heritage of Rowan County baseball. It’s a trueblood American Legion program that’s recognized all over the country. That’s why we’re here.”