Southern ends playoff skid

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 1, 2014

ALBEMARLE — Southern Rowan survived a late scare and hung on to beat Stanly County in its playoff opener 8-5 Monday night at Montgomery Park.
Ben Gragg struck out Russ Weiker with the bases loaded and the winning run at the plate to snap a five-game playoff losing streak. Coming off a doubleheader split last Friday, Southern banged out 14 hits to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five League Series.
“Anytime you go on the road in a best-of-five series and come home with a win, it’s big,” Southern coach Ben Hampton said. “Now we get to come home and put ourselves in a good position.”
Game 2 is tonight at South Rowan High at 7 p.m. Blake Johnson will start on the hill for Southern, the third seed out of the southeast division.
Southern catcher and Mars Hill signee Matt Honeycutt threw out a runner stealing second base and picked off a runner at third on a snap throw.
Matt Saul got the win on the mound, throwing six innings.
“Matt gave us a great effort,” Hampton said.
Southern jumped on Stanly with three runs in the first. Dylan Carpenter, Matt Honeycutt and Chase Labbe drove in runs in the first for a 3-0 lead.
Stanly, the No. 2 seed, scored twice in the fourth to cut the lead to 4-3. An error led to two Southern runs in the sixth before Labee hit a two-run double to extend the lead to 8-3.
“We got some solid defensive play from our infield,” Hampton said. “The two runners Matt Honeycutt threw out were huge.”
Southern’s Andrew Fulton pitched the seventh and eighth innings before getting bounced in the ninth. Stanly pushed across run and loaded the bases when Gragg hung on.
“Ben stuck his neck out there and got us a huge strikeout,” Hampton said.