Legion Baseball: Mooresville 12, South Rowan 9
By David Shaw
MOORESVILLE — The news from South Rowan’s corner was both worthy and upsetting Friday night after Post 185 dropped its American Legion opener.
The good news was that South flooded the bases with runners and scored nine runs against host Mooresville Post 66. The bad news was it wasn’t enough.
“To score nine runs and lose, that’s not good,” said SR’s Brian Goodnight, the assistant coach who has taken the wheel until head coach Michael Lowman returns. “We most definitely have to play better defense than this.”
More good news: South’s dehydrating 12-9 loss won’t count in the Southern Division standings. But it committed six errors, hit into a couple of double plays and struck out three times with the bases loaded.
“We’ve got to make plays in the infield and the outfield,” first-baseman Kyle Bridges said after reaching base five times. “And with these new bats, nine runs should be enough to win a game. We’ve just got to get it together.”
Winning coach Jeremy Johnson also provided a less-than-glowing review of Post 66’s performance. “To win in this league you’ve got to be able to pitch and play defense,” he said. “If you don’t do that, it doesn’t matter how much you hit.”
South took its only lead of the game against Mooresville starter Mike Knight in the top of the first inning. Shortstop Caleb Jackson delivered the game’s first run when he lined an 0-2 pitch down the right-field line for a run-scoring double. Moments later teammate Dylan Goodman crossed the plate when Dylan Carpenter was plunked with a bases-loaded changeup.
When SR right-hander Jordan Kennerly retired the hosts in order in the last of the first, the locals had completed a near-perfect opening inning.
“Yeah, but there was still a long way to go,” Goodnight said. “Even when we fell behind 12-5 in the middle of the game, we were still in it.”
Mooresville solved Kennerly in the second and third innings, when it plated four runs. It was a 4-4 game when Michael Elwell blooped an RBI single to center against South reliever Ben Gragg in the last of the fourth. Two batters later Ian Edmiston’s sac fly gave Post 66 a two-run lead.
Gragg allowed four runs — all of them unearned — in two innings and was tagged with the loss. “We’ve got some new people,” Jackson said. “But we need to make the routine plays. We were right in this game but a few errors cost us runs.”
Jackson, an A.L. Brown product who hopes to attend Catawba or Brevard in the fall, committed three errors and looked shaky on an eighth-inning fielder’s choice. “I’m not blaming it on anything,” he said. “I got a few bad hops, but I still should have made those plays.”
South trailed 8-5 when Patrick Hampton took the mound in the bottom of the sixth and yielded four runs, though only two were earned. A crushing blow came when Mooresville’s Nathan Sharpe came off the bench and whipped a two-run single to center put the game out of reach.
South responded with three runs in the eighth and another in the ninth, but fell short.
“We had a lot of upside,” Bridges said afterward. “I’d give us a C-plus. I think we’re gonna be fine.”
NOTES: South opens its league season tonight at Kannapolis and hosts Post 66 on Sunday. … Jackson added a second double in the third. … Bridges attended Lynchburg College this past year and hopes to enroll at Catawba in August.