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Legion baseball: Rowan 6, Mocksville 4

By Mike London
mlondon@salisburypost.com
MOCKSVILLE — Fighting to extend its season, Rowan County ended Mocksville’s 15-game winning streak with a tense 6-4 victory on Thursday.
Mocksville (24-7) hadn’t lost since June 14 and hadn’t lost to a Southern Division foe since it was Seagered by Kannapolis on June 6.
Game 4 will be necessary tonight at Newman Park in the best-of-five series mostly because Alex Bost was awesome out of the Rowan bullpen at Rich Park. Credit also goes to a clutch hit by Ashton Fleming, a big offensive night by Avery Rogers and a solid start on the mound by Jared Mathis, who gave No. 5 seed Rowan (16-17) a chance against the division’s top-seeded club.
“A key to the game was Mathis pitching out of jams,” Rowan coach Jim Gantt said. “He held them to one run (in the fifth) when it looked like they might get a bunch.”
The hard-luck loser was Mocksville pitcher Matt Miller. He exited after walking the leadoff man in the eighth in a 3-3 game, and that free pass to his West Rowan High teammate Justin Evans eventually produced the run that put Rowan ahead to stay.
“Miller pitched great and deserved to win,” Mocksville coach Charles Kurfees said. “But our big guys just aren’t hitting the ball right now, and we’re putting too much of a burden on our pitchers.”
Rowan jumped out 2-0. Rogers plated Will Sapp with a hit in the first. Then Rogers drilled an infield single that scored Bauk in the third.
Mocksville tied it 2-2 on sac flies by Will Beeson and Brice Merritt. Mocksville had runners at the corners with none out in the fifth when Mathis got Corey Randall to hit into a double play. A run scored, but Rowan was only down 3-2.
It was 3-3 after Brian Bauk’s two-out bouncer in the sixth was booted, and Bauk was safe on a bang-bang play.
Bost relieved Mathis and whiffed two dangerous hitters to end the seventh.
Then Bost, who rarely bats, laid down a sacrifice to set up Rowan’s two-run eighth.
“It’s not that hard to get a bunt down, but sometimes we just try too hard,” Gantt said.
With runners at second and third with two out, Kurfees ordered an intentional pass of Bauk so reliever Michael Ball could face Fleming because Fleming was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.
“Miller had my number all night and had kept the ball away from me,” Fleming said. “But Ball threw one high and down the middle.”
Fleming didn’t cream it, but it fell in left field for a two-run single. Rowan led 5-3.
Beeson’s double led to a Mocksville run that made it 5-4, but Rowan inched its lead back to 6-4 in the ninth on a double by Rogers and a bloop hit by Nathan Fulbright.
Then it was up to Bost.
The last of the ninth started with a strikeout. Pressure mounted, however, when Bost fell behind leadoff man Karch Arey 3-0 with the big sticks behind him. Bost came back to get Arey with a fastball, followed by two unhittable sliders, and when Connor Bodenhamer bounced out, Rowan was back in the series.
“We’ve fought every night,” Fleming said. “We just haven’t been getting that big hit — but tonight we did.”

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