Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 12, 2013
SALISBURY — Just when you think you have the game of baseball figured out, something confounding and strange comes along that changes everything.
Rowan County was sailing along with a two run lead in the late innings against Davidson Post 8 Tuesday night when everything just unraveled.
Davidson County gladly accepted five unearned runs including three in the top of the decisive eighth and claimed a 6-4 non-division Area III win.
Just when it seemed Rowan had escaped a bases loaded no out jam, a routine pop fly to sure-handed second baseman Michael Caldwell bounced off his glove and two runs scored to tie it at 4-4. Then pitcher Riley Myers was called for a balk with men on first and third when he faked to third and turned to first, a move just outlawed by rule this season. That allowed Davidson’s Matt Thorburn to trot home with the lead run for Post 8.
Down 5-4 Rowan loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the eighth but Post 8 flamethrower Braxton Shetley fanned both Chance Bowden and Hunter Brooks to preserve the lead.
“It is a humbling sport,” Brooks said after he smashed two doubles and drove in three runs. But with the game hanging in the balance he struck out. “I have been through many situations where it just kills you. It is the little things that killed us tonight.”
Davidson (7-6) added a big insurance run in the top of the ninth with two outs and a man on third when Bowden’s swipe tag attempt on Thorburn at first base was ruled safe. The home crowd howled in dismay but Post 8 still led 6-4.
Shetley nailed down the save for Davidson in the ninth despite a walk to Chase Hathcock and a pinch hit double by Nate Fulbright brought the winning run to the plate. But Harrison Baucom ground to third and was called out on a close play to end it.
“No doubt those errors helped us,” Davidson coach Chad Moser said. “But the big thing to me tonight was seeing no errors on the board for us. I think our kids just really wanted to win this game tonight.”
Both teams used six pitchers for the night with Chandler Simmerson claiming the win. Connor Johnson had a solid five innings for Rowan (7-5) with six strikeouts and was in line for the win before the eighth inning disaster. Myers ended up with the tough luck loss.
“I thought Riley pitched as good an inning as anyone all night,” Coach Jim Gantt noted. “But he ends up with the loss. That just shows you how humbling and crazy baseball is.”
Gantt also noted that while things went bad in the eighth, there were numerous missed opportunities and base running blunders earlier that cost his team. They left 15 on base for the night including seven in the final three innings.
Rowan scored two runs in the first as Brooks had a long double. Ashton Fleming’s sac fly made it 3-0. in the second. Post 8 cut it to 3-2 but back to back doubles by Bowden and Brooks in the seventh seemed to give Rowan breathing room at 4-2.
Despite their three errors, Rowan did turn three double plays for the night.