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SALISBURY — One of the juggernauts of Area III Legion baseball came to Newman Park Wednesday night but left on the short end of an 11-1 loss to Rowan County.
Kernersville Post 36 came to town off a 10-0 win over a strong Stanly team, sported a lofty 11-2 record and was known for its long ball power.
None of that seemed to phase pitcher Brian Bauk, the infield defense — and especially all nine batters in the line-up.
Rowan (7-4) literally packed all of their offense into the first two innings to go ahead 11-0. After that Bauk (1-0) and his defense did the rest in wrapping up a surprisingly easy seven-inning, 10-run rule victory.
“For me, it got to be more about throwing strikes rather than throw as hard as you can,” Bauk said. “I was throwing fastball and change-up more than anything. It was a big win for us and we need to get a hot streak going now.”
A lot of the credit for keeping Post 36 at bay goes to the Rowan infield defense, especially second baseman Michael Caldwell who made a number of spectacular diving stops for outs. He also drove in two runs with a pair of hits in the early scoring outburst.
“I was just trying to help (Brian)out and stay behind him,” Caldwell said. “We had that big lead and wanted to keep it that way.”
Caldwell added that the middle defense works hard at “getting your hands out front and making the play.”
Right-fielder Taylor Garczynski added his own defensive gem in the top of the first when threw a frozen rope to home, nailing Robbie Hardison for the third out.
Rowan then jumped on Kernersville starter Ryan Smith right out of the gate, sending 12 batters to the plate, scoring eight runs on seven hits. Harrison Baucom had a single then a double in the frame and drove in a pair. Catcher Nate Fulbright had a two-run single, as did Caldwell.
The onslaught continued in the second with three more Rowan runs on three hits and a Post 36 error. Garczynski had his second RBI hit to make it 11-0 but Rowan left the bases loaded.
“We did score early and that really helped,” Rowan coach Jim Gantt said. “Our hitters did a really good job of recognizing what their pitcher was trying to do to them. Plus, with Bauk on the mound, you always feel like you can beat anybody. It was a good effort all the way around for us.”
The one true bright spot for Kernersville was the work of relief pitcher Eric Corlett, an East Forsyth senior. He came on in the third and proceeded to post four perfect innings. He faced 12 batters and got nine groundouts.
“He definitely gave us a chance to stay in it,” Post 36 coach Chad Loflin said of Corlett, adding the large early deficit was too much to overcome.
“It just set the tone for the whole game,” Loflin said. “And right now we are using that as a teachable moment for our players.”
Post 36 did score in the top of the seventh off reliever Justin Evans on an RBI single by Caleb Edwards. But a great stop by Caldwell at second and a pop out to right gave Evans his first save and ended the game.
Rowan now faces the other top Area III team, Randolph County (10-1) at Newman Park tonight to kick off a three game weekend, plus Graduation Day Saturday.

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