Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 20, 2013
LANDIS — The whims of the weather have contributed to this odd American Legion season.
Southern Rowan’s field was perfectly dry Monday, but Kannapolis’ field, 15 minutes away, where Southern was scheduled to play, was under water.
It’s been hard for Southern Rowan coach Ben Hampton to count on the weatherman, but there have been two sure things this summer — leadoff man Tyler Fuller, who’s gets on base better than 60 percent of the time, and pitcher Dillon Atwell.
Atwell and Fuller were at it again on Wednesday, and they led SR to a 5-1 divisional win against visiting Kannapolis on a night when there wasn’t a raindrop or lightning bolt in sight.
“I know our guys were eager to play after losing to Rowan County, and then having two straight rainouts,” Hampton said. “Dillon was solid. He stayed low in the zone, and when he does that, it’s hard to get a bead on him. The tried to lift him a lot, and he got a lot of flyballs.”
Fuller had three of Southern’s 11 hits, including a 350-foot triple that he mashed in the eighth.
Atwell (4-1) pitched seven innings, struck out six and limited Kannapolis to six hits. Billy Winecoff and Austin Bracewell worked a scoreless inning each to finish off Post 115.
“That was still one of the better games we’ve played,” Kannapolis coach Joe Hubbard said. “South’s speed puts pressure on you, but we did a nice job of stemming the tide and avoiding big innings. Our problem is always scoring runs. We’ve gotta get better offensively.”
Kannapolis would look scarier if Jordan Goodman, Tanner Bigham and Eric Hamilton were healthy, but they’re not.
“And it’s not like we can pick up the phone and call the farm system for help,” Hubbard said.
Kannapolis (5-7, 0-2) scored in the first inning when Evan Holub came home on Ryan Austin’s sac fly, but Ben Gragg doubled and scored for SR in the bottom of the first for a 1-all tie.
SR (9-6, 1-1) used four singles and Parker Hubbard’s sac fly to score twice in the second.
Hubbard singled home a run in the third for a 4-1 lead. Dillon Parker’s triple and Dylan Goodman’s RBI single produced SR’s final tally in the seventh.
SR knocked out Kannapolis starter Austin Mace in the fourth, but Phillip Faggart got Kannapolis out of a two-on, none-out jam, and he also was tough in the fifth and sixth.
“We had to try to jump on Faggart’s fastball,” Fuller said. “His fastball was kinda flat, but his curveball was really good — like it was falling off a table.”
Southern stole four bases — two by Fuller — but it also had several more baserunning mistakes.
“We want to be aggressive, but there’s a fine line between aggressive and dumb,” Hampton said. “We should’ve scored more than five. Most Legion games, five won’t be enough.”
It was enough this time mostly because of Atwell.
“That was the best I’ve seen him throw in a year and half,” assistant Chris Cauble said.