CONCORD — The Rowan Legion baseball team piled all of its offense into the early innings, then used stellar relief pitching to claim a key division win at Concord Post 51 Friday night.
Rowan scored all 11 runs and notched 14 of its 16 hits in the first five innings enroute to an 11-4 win at the Central Cabarrus High School field. With the regular season heading down the homestretch over the next eight days, every win is critical, especially in the Southeast Division where Rowan (10-7) is now 2-0.
Led by Chance Bowden and Harrison Baucom with three hits each, Rowan got offensive output from all nine players in the lineup and scored runs in each of the first five frames. The fourth was the decisive inning as Rowan scored four times to go up 10-2.
Brian Bauk started it with a double, followed by singles from Chase Hathcock and Justin Evans. Nathan Fulbright got plunked by a pitch to force in a run then Ashton Fleming produced the big blow with a two run single.
“As a team we hit the ball really well tonight,” Fleming said. “I think we came out tonight and played with a lot more intensity. We were a lot more focused than the other night (a loss at Mooresville)”
Fleming also had the defensive gem of the night when he personally produced one of the team’s two double plays. On a sinking liner to short he made a divnig catch then threw out Post 51’s Daniel Roman trying to scramble back to first.
Rowan starter Clint Veal went the first five innings and earned the win but much of the pitching credit went to relievers Justin Evans, Riley Myers and finally Ryan Jones. They alllowed just two hits and no runs over the final four innings to keep Concord at bay. Veal allowed six hits and all four runs, striking out five as he improved to 2-1. He did walk five batters and uncork three wild pitches in five innings.
“It looks easy to go out there with a big lead but you still have to throw it over the plate,” Rowan Coach Jim Gantt noted. With a seven-game stretch coming up next week he needs every arm he can get. “We have to keep running these guys out there because we really need them. We hope they get better each time they go out.”
Post 51 (6-9, 0-2) got its own stellar relief effort from righthander Justin Green. He came on in the big Rowan fourth and got roughed up a bit. But over the last five innings he limited Rowan to just one more run and four hits while fanning four.
“Justin did everything we asked him to do and shut the door,” Post 51 assistant Matt Barrier said. “But we just got ourselves in a hole in the early innings tonight and couldn’t dig out.”
Concord scored two in the second to make it 4-2 on doubles by Parker Henderson and Jacob Rawson. The home team added single runs in the fourth and fifth but could get no closer. Mitch Helms led Post 51 with a two singles and an RBI.
Baucom had two singles and a double with an RBI for Rowan while Bowden had two singles and a triple with two RBIs. Hunter Brooks, Hathcock and Fulbright contributed two hits each as well.
Rowan continues division play this weekend against Kannapolis tonight and Sunday, followed by games each night next week.
“That’s the way I like it,” Gantt said. “I just hope the player’s respond.”
NOTES: The ironic play of the night came in the eighth when Post 51’s Collin Sprinkle walked and the infield sprinkler system came on to briefly halt play.
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