Legion playoffs: Rowan 15, Mooresville Legends 13 (11 innings)
Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 5, 2012
By David Shaw
MOORESVILLE — No one said it was going to be easy for Rowan County’s American Legion baseball team — only that it would be worth it.
It took four hours, 10 minutes and 11 innings for visiting RC to finish off the Mooresville Legends in three straight games Thursday night. And it took last-inning, run-scoring hits by Will Sapp and Ashton Fleming to secure a heart-pounding 15-13 victory.
“I would call it a game that no one would quit in,” outfielder Brian Bauk said after Rowan (15-15) advanced to Monday night’s Round 2 opener at Mocksville. “But someone had to win. Fortunately we wound up on the good side.”
Rowan’s patience paid off against the Legends (10-12). Coach Jim Gantt had was the better poker player, accurately sensing when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em, then pressing the right buttons at the right time.
“We wouldn’t expect anything else playing against Rowan,” Post 537 infielder Joe Cobb said after reaching base six times. “You’ve got to give them credit. They battled and battled all the way back.”
The Legends’ season was circling the drain after Rowan jumped to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first, then made it 4-1 when Sapp scored on Fleming’s sacrifice fly in the second.
“Then we had that one bad inning and everything changed,” Sapp said after collecting three of Rowan’s 16 hits.
That one bad inning was the Mooresville third, when the hosts jumped on erratic Rowan starter Jared Mathis and reliever Dakota Brown for eight runs. It was tied 4-4 when Daniel Beck crushed Brown’s first delivery for a grand slam.
“That’s when we started fighting,” Sapp explained. “And we kept on fighting until the last inning.”
They had to. Alex Morgan (3-for-4, four RBIs) banged a two-run single and Chase Hathcock added a run-scoring hit in the fourth. RC trailed 10-7 before plating three runs on Morgan’s base hit to right in the top of the eighth. Rowan went ahead 13-10 an inning later — two runs crossed on Bryson Prugh’s clutch single — before winning pitcher Alex Bost gave them back in the last of the ninth.
“I could have sworn we had the game in the ninth,” said Bauk.
It took until the 11th, when Avery Rogers sliced a leadoff double to the right-center gap, for Rowan to lock up the series. He scored when Sapp ripped a 3-1 pitch to the fence in left-center. Fleming playing insurance man with a one-out liner that fell into right.
“It would have been nice to win,” said Legends’ first-baseman Louis Kraft. “But they had more pitching. And they’re just now starting to click — just when they need to.”