SALISBURY — Eleven-run innings are usually helpful, and the Rowan County Legion team cruised to a 16-3 win against the Mooresville Legends on Saturday at Newman Park.
Chase Hathcock went 4-for-4 to lead an onslaught that included an 11-run fifth in which Rowan (8-6) paraded 17 men to the plate. Brian Bauk and Chance Bowden scored three runs each. Hathcock, Bauk, Justin Evans, Nathan Fulbright, Hunter Brooks and Taylor Garczynski drove in two apiece.
It was a laugher, as it turned out, but no one was grinning in the top of the second when Hunter Teeter’s double triggered three runs by the visitors for a 3-0 lead, and the Legends (2-9) still had the bases full with none out against young starter Ryan Jones.
“I remember thinking, ‘No way we’re getting out of this without a whole bunch of runs scoring,’ ” said Hathcock, Rowan second baseman. “But Ryan bounces back, and we get out of that inning with just three. And we knew three wasn’t bad because we’ve got some guys who can swing it.”
Jones was firing fastballs in that second inning, up in the strike zone, and he was getting hit hard. He also made a throwing error on a bunt — he couldn’t get the ball out of his glove — and that led to serious trouble.
“I thought we were going to have to go get Ryan in the second,” Rowan coach Jim Gantt said. “But he ends up giving us five good innings.”
Having experienced players like shortstop Ashton Fleming and catcher Nathan Fulbright around got Jones through his rough patch. Both had chats with Jones.
“It was just a matter of getting him to relax and locate pitches,” Fulbright said.
Jones (1-0) put zeroes on the board after the second.
“They were sitting on fastballs, but I started locating my changeup and mixing in curveballs,” Jones said. “And I kept everything down.”
Rowan’s three-run second tied the game. The key to the inning was Fulbright racing first-to-third on Hathcock’s RBI single, and Hathcock alertly moving up to second base on the throw to third.
“You can never go wrong with hustle, and Fulbright’s hustle there was a key play,” Gantt said. “He’s not a fast baserunner, but he made a smart baserunning decision.”
Rowan’s monstrous fifth finished off the Legends, who simply ran out of pitching.
The fifth started innocently when Bauk bounced to third base, but the first baseman was playing deep and by the time he got to the bag, Bauk was almost there, and a rushed throw sailed high.
Rowan had nine singles in the fifth and was well on its way to the 10-run rule.
“We were seeing the ball and hitting a lot of fastballs,” Hathcock said. “But it was controlled agression. We also were taking our walks.”
Connor Johnson and Heath Mitchem shut out the Legends the last two innings.
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