Legion Baseball Playoffs: High Point 11, Rowan 4
By Jordan Honeycutt
THOMASVILLE ó Rowan County will take many fans and 23 wins to Morehead City this weekend for the state tournamentńńń but High Point will be taking the momentum.
The Hi-Toms of Post 87 finished off a two-game sweep of Rowan by an 11-4 score at beautiful Finch Field on Sunday night.
Rowan will still be able to vie for the state crown, but will enter the tourney as Area III runner-up, instead of champion.
ěYou have to give credit to them, they played better than us, as we really couldnít do too much tonight,î Rowan coach Jim Gantt said.
ěWe got ourselves into a lot of 0-2 holes and 1-2 holes at the plate, and, of course, it makes it harder for anybody to hit from behind in the count.î
A main reason Rowan hitters were behind in the count was due to High Point hurler Justin Morrison spotting breaking balls on the outside corner, which was being given all night by home plate umpire Scott Williams.
Morrisonís counterpart, Zack Simpson, had no such luck.
Simpson was battered by the bats of the Hi-Toms, to the tune of nine runs on eight hits over four innings, including three two-run blasts.
ěZackís main problem tonight wasnít necessarily that he pitched bad, I donít think that he did all that bad, but he got behind in counts and they are a good hitting team,î Gantt said.
The Hi-Tomsí homers came from the bats of DeSean Anderson, Victor Zecca and Jonathan Bethea.
Anderson, who was a member of the national champion South Carolina Gamecocks this past spring, riled up Rowan fans by stomping on the plate to score a run and making a shushing gesture towards them.
Rowan seemed like it wanted to start the home run derby as Luke Thomas crushed his sixth of the year in the bottom of the first with a man on, giving Rowan an early 2-0 lead, but Morrison was able to cut off the power.
Obviously dejected and disappointed in being the Area III runner-up, Rowan players and coaches all would still rather drop games now than this coming weekend.
ěWe are a real competitive team and, of course, we want to win every time we take the field,î Thomas said.
ěBut if we have to lose, we would rather it be now than in Morehead City.î
As for the home run, Thomas, who has been hitting better and better as the season has gone on, said he was sitting on an off-speed pitch and got a hanging changeup from Morrison.
Simpson, who is now 6-1 on the season, looked like a completely different pitcher on this night than what Rowan fans have become accustomed to seeing.
ěI think Zack will bounce back from tonight and be fine for us in the tournament ó they are just a great hitting team and they got on him early tonight,î Thomas said.
Rowan doesnít know yet who it will face in the first game of the state tournament on Friday morning in Morehead City (Cary or Wayne County), but it does know it will open the tournament with morning baseball.
Rowan will hope to avoid a hangover from this series over the weekend, but it may end up seeing High Point again.
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