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F&M Bank Classic: South Rowan 7, A.L. Brown 5

By David Shaw
mlondon@salisburypost.com
KANNAPOLIS — South Rowan didn’t earn any style points Friday night at CMC-NorthEast Stadium, but it picked up its county-leading 12th victory.
The Raiders rallied for four runs in the top of the seventh inning, then survived an edge-of-your-seat finish to notch a 7-5 win over A.L. Brown in the F&M Bank Classic.
“This is all about battling against adversity,” starting pitcher Jordan Kennerly said after South (12-7) collected its third straight triumph. “We’re a team that does the little things, executes the small things to put runners across the plate. We don’t quit.”
South coach Thad Chrismon believes a Polaroid of the Raiders is slowly developing — and so far he likes what he sees.
“I hope this is what we are,” he said after South overcame a 3-1 third-inning deficit. “I would have hated to lose that game. I’d hate to lose any game that we had a chance in and worked so hard to stay in. We’ve been working on winning these type of games.”
As losses go, this one was particularly hard to swallow for longtime Brown coach Empsy Thompson. “This is what rivalries are supposed to be like,” he said after the Wonders fell to 6-11. “But it hurts because our kids competed like crazy. (South) just made a couple more plays than we did.”
The Raiders made several in the final inning. Trailing 4-3 and facing Brown reliever Will Messer, they launched their comeback when Kennerly laced a leadoff double down the right-field line. “On a two-strike pitch,” Chrismon said. “He had to fight it off.”
Kennerly — who allowed one earned run in five innings and tripled to the right-center gap in the second — caught a break when the ball kicked off a cement wall in foul territory.
“Yeah, but I was looking two (bases) all the way,” he said. “I wanted to get into scoring position. That’s what it was all about.”
Kennerly moved to third base when pinch-hitter Tyler Fuller bunted for a base hit. Then with one away SR catcher Eric Tyler chopped a ball to first baseman J.P. Patterson, whose peg to the plate arrived a split second before Kennerly.
“But Jordan made an exceptional slide and caught the back portion of the plate,” Chrismon said.
Teammate Parker Hubbard put South ahead when he steered a 2-2 curveball into left field for an RBI single. “I should have hit the first pitch, a fastball, but I let it go,” Hubbard said. “On 2-2, it was an inside curve that I got my hands through. We keep fighting and fighting and that’s what I had to do.”
A one-out throwing error helped South pad its lead to 6-4. The Raiders kept looking for insurance and like a good neighbor, Bubba McLaughlin was there, delivering a pivotal sacrifice fly.
“Our intention was to get three outs and get out of there,” Thompson said. “But that’s baseball. Sometimes that stuff is gonna happen. Unfortunately, it happened at a bad time for us.”
Winning pitcher Jonnie Lefebvre turned his second appearance of the season into a successful failure. Still recovering from an arm injury, he yielded single runs in the sixth and seventh innings, uncorked three wild pitches and hit a batter — and improved to 1-0.
“In my relieving days that was called a vulture,” Chrismon said with a grin. “A vulture swoops in and eats up after somebody’s already killed it. That was Jonnie.”

NOTES: South goes for its third win this week when it faces J.M. Robinson at 10 a.m. today.

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