Legion baseball: South Rowan 16, Statesville 12
By Mike London
LANDIS — Ninety-eight batters stepped to the plate in Wednesday’s wild American Legion game, and momentum swung nearly as often as the hitters.
South Rowan overcame a six-run deficit to beat Statesville 16-12 to finish a season sweep of its Iredell rival. South took a giant step toward qualifying for the playoffs.
“This was a game I felt like we had to win,” South coach Michael Lowman said.
South got five RBIs from Maverick Miles. Miles’ majestic, three-run homer with two men out in the third inning erased a 3-1 deficit and was one of the key swings in a marathon matchup that slogged on for 31/2 hours.
“My dad told me before the game that there would be a big situation where I needed to try to make something happen for us,” Miles said. “I got a high changeup, and I was finally able to get my team some runs.”
Miles is the leading slugger in program history, and the homer was the 20th of his career. It also was his first since opening night, a long drought for a hitter with his credentials. Playing on one leg, Miles was used as the DH.
“Mav got hit on the left knee on Monday, and it’s really been bothering him,” Lowman said. “He asked to DH tonight, and we’ve got a night off on Thursday. Hopefully, we can get him back in there on Friday and get him healed up all the way for the playoffs.”
South (8-13, 7-9) can speak with some confidence about being in the playoffs, but the postseason picture looked much murkier when it trailed 11-5 after 51/2 ugly innings.
Statesville (6-14, 4-12) was able to shake off Miles’ clutch homer with a two-out grand slam by starting pitcher Sam Laws in the fourth. Laws socked a belt-high mistake from South starter Weston Smith over the left-field fence for a 7-4 Statesville advantage.
Travis Fetter’s single, one of his three hits, and a pair of walks set the table for Laws.
It got worse for South before it got better. Statesville, which put its leadoff man on base in each of the first six innings, tacked on two in the fifth and added two more in the sixth to build that secure-looking 11-5 lead.
But South wiped out all of its imposing deficit by sending 11 men to the plate and putting together a six-run sixth. Parker Hubbard, Matt Miller and Joseph Basinger singled to get it started, and Kyle Bridges’ two-run single triggered a merry-go-round.
“Our pregame talk was about not panicking if things went wrong, and I guess we had a chance to work on that right away,” Lowman said. “They helped us some, but we also had some good at-bats. We were more patient, we took some walks and we were able to make a comeback.”
Reliever Patrick Hampton (1-1) put up a critical zero in the Statesville seventh that helped turn the game.
“I just wanted to throw strikes and make them earn their baserunners with hits, not walks,” Hampton said. “
South finally took charge in the bottom half of the seventh when Basinger scored on a wild pitch for a 12-11 lead and Gunnar Hogan’s bases-loaded walked made it 13-11.
Matt Miller fired a dominant eighth for South. Then Dillon Atwell got his team through the ninth with the help of a slick 4-6-3 twin killing started by Hubbard and turned by Hogan.
Basinger and Bridges, South’s No. 8 and No. 9 hitters, combined to score seven runs.
“We had the ball in the hands of the pitchers we wanted to have the ball, but we just made an insurmountable number of mental and physical errors tonight,” Statesville coach Trey Ramsey said. “Baseball doesn’t forgive repeated mistakes like we made — and it shouldn’t.”