ALBEMARLE — In the final days of the Area III American Legion baseball regular season, the most consistent winner was Mother Nature.
Nowhere was that more evident than Friday night at Don Montgomery Park in Albemarle. Southern Rowan traveled to face Stanly County with the second seed in the Southeast Division at stake. Despite playing their second game of the day, Southern pounced on Post 76 early and often, leading 9-0 in the top of the 4th.
But then came the lightning delay, followed closely by a deluge of rain that ended all hope of finishing the game.
After a long delay and a lot of discussion, the decision was made to start the game over from scratch on Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. in Albemarle.
The do-over wipes out Southern’s nine-run lead. Dylan Carpenter’s two run triple? Gone. Bryson Prugh’s three-run homer in the second? Never happened. Dillon Parker’s solid shutout pitching performance through three inning? Nope.
Southern coach Ben Hampton was proud of his charges nonetheless as they came out battling from the beginning. Earlier in the day, Southern won a home make-up game with Concord, 9-4 to improve to 5-2 in the division, 14-8 overall. Stanly came in to last night’s contest 4-3, 12-9 including a previous 5-1 loss to Southern Rowan.
These two will definitely meet in the first round of the Area III playoffs beginning next Tuesday but the second seed gets home field advantage in the best of five series.
“I told the team after we beat Concord that we have got one more game on the agenda,” Hampton said. “We had to come up here and win and leave nothing to chance. We want to control our own destiny.”
Everything was going according to plan for Southern until the storm hit. Now in the unique world of Legion baseball, the plot thickens. Area Commissioner Jim Lippard gave the two teams permission to extend the regular season by one day (Sunday) and settle the matter on the field.
There is a tie-breaker system based first on head-to-head results. If Stanly wins Sunday then the two would be tied for second. The tie-breaker then goes to the team that has allowed the fewest runs in conference (division) games. So far Southern has allowed 24 runs while Stanly has allowed 32 runs.
Stanly not only has to defeat Southern but must win by more then eight runs. If rain interferes and the two teams cannot complete the game by Sunday or Monday, then it becomes a double forfeit and Southern is second.
The make-up game cannot be played on Saturday because all teams from Area III will have representatives in Asheboro for the annual All-Star game. Five from Southern are making the trip including Ben Gragg, Tyler Fuller, Dylan Carpenter, Dylan Goodman and Dillon Parker.
The playoffs for all divisions start Tuesday at the home field of the higher seeds. All seeding in the four divisions have now been decided except for the Southern Rowan and Stanly stalemate.
For the record, although it did not count, Southern pounced on Stanly starter De Kiser right out of the gate with Fuller’s double and Carpenter’s two run triple. Goodman’s groundout made it 3-0.
They added five more in the second, keyed by Prugh’s long three-run homer to left. Connor Bridges also had an RBI single to start the rally. An unearned run in the third made it 9-0. At the same time, Parker was limiting Stanly to just three singles in the early going and seemed well on his way to a win.
But in the end only Mother Nature won.
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