Legion baseball playoffs: Rowan 10, Mooresville Legends 0
By Mike London
MOORESVILLE — If the pitching thing doesn’t work out for Rowan’s Avery Rogers, stand-up comedy may provide a career alternative.
Asked about the early run support he received in Monday’s 10-0 wipeout of the Mooresville Legends in a first-round playoff game, Rogers quipped, “I think our hitters like me better than our other guys.”
Rogers was kidding — we think — but the stats support his claim.
In his first start of the summer, a 6-0 win at Wilkes, he was staked to a quick 3-0 lead. Against the Legends in start No. 2, it was 4-0 before Rogers ever had to throw a pitch.
Of course, Rogers is holding up his end. A rising sophomore at Guilford, he’s been super. After throwing six more scoreless innings, his ERA is down to 0.42, and he’s Rowan’s first three-game winner.
“Rogers threw it well,” Legends coach Johnny Meadows said. “Once he settled into a groove, he showed us the other end of the baseball.”
Fifth-seeded Rowan (13-15) has struggled but was enthused about a fresh start in the playoffs. It played as well as it has all summer and caught the Legends (10-10) on a night when they were banged up with mono, migraines, pulled quads and bruised wrists, and at their worst.
The way Rogers was throwing, the game was all but decided in the top of the first. Brian Bauk beat out an infield hit with one out and barely made it to second base safely when Ashton Fleming punched a hit to shallow center field.
Nathan Fulbright’s hard groundball followed. It should have produced an inning-ending double play, but it instead produced an error and a 1-0 lead for Rowan.
Jared Mathis, who should never have batted in the inning, followed Fulbright, and he crushed a three-run homer to left-center that put Rowan on the road to victory.
“I was down in the count, but I got a pitch to hit, an inside fastball,” Mathis said. “It wasn’t really a flyball I hit — more a line drive.”
A line drive that just kept going. This summer, the chances of seeing a three-run homer by a Rowan hitter have been roughly the same as seeing a flying saucer land on the mound at Newman Park, but there it went. Seeing was believing.
Rowan ended the game in seven via the 10-run rule, with the aid of four errors, seven walks and five HBPs. Fulbright and Will Sapp knocked in runs with two-out hits.
“Kinda agonizing to watch all those walks,” Meadows said. “But some of our pitchers needed the work.”
Mathis also contributed a great catch, pulling down a wicked drive to right-center by Joe Cobb as he banged his elbow on the fence.
“Mathis made a nice catch, and Rogers gave us a chance,” Rowan coach Jim Gantt said. “But it’s just one game, and we might not have this kind of offensive night in the next one.”
Bauk will pitch tonight at Newman Park. The Legends will counter with Jack Kolls.