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American Legion Baseball: Rowan vs. High Point in Area III final

Staff report
The most exciting game of the Area III American Legion regular season probably was Rowan County’s 1-0, 11-inning road win at High Point.
Omar Bautista and Bryan Ketchie shut out a powerful High Point lineup, and Rowan finally won the game on a wild pitch in the 11th.
Rowan (23-6) and High Point (24-6), not surprisingly, finished 1-2 in the regular-season standing, and now they’ll meet for the best-of-three Area III championship.
Game 1 is Saturday at Newman Park at 7 p.m. Game 2 is at Finch Field on Sunday. Game 3, if needed, will be Monday at Newman Park.
In the semifinals, Rowan beat fourth-seeded Randolph three games to one.
“We had some help, some key errors,” Rowan coach Jim Gantt said. “The difference in that series was our making defensive plays and Randolph not making them at some crucial times.”
Gantt said the key individual in the series was Rowan lefty Ketchie, who dominated Game 3 after Randolph had taken some momentum by winning Game 2.
High Point rallied for three straight wins, including 5-1 on Friday, to beat third-seeded Eastern Randolph three games to two in its semifinal series.
High Point has been the dominant team in Area III in recent seasons, winning three of the last four championships. Rowan County last won Area III in 2009.
High Point is an older team with a lot of college players. Post 87 started seven college players in that 1-0 loss to Rowan at Finch Field.
Bryce Lance threw a complete game for High Point on Friday and retired 22 straight batters at one point, so he won’t start a game in the Area III championship series.
Both teams want to win the series to claim a No. 1 seed, a trophy and bragging rights, but both teams are already in the state tournament at Newman Park (July 23-28) — and the priority will be preparing for the next event.
“It would be great to win this series and we do want to win the area championship,” Gantt said. “But we’re going to use a lot of pitchers and we’re not going to use anybody for a lot of innings. We’ve got guys who need to pitch because we’re going to need them all in the state tournament — and the state tournament is most important.”
Gantt is pleased that Rowan didn’t just make the state tournament because it was hosting it. Rowan earned its way by reaching the Area III finals.
Eastern Randolph and Randolph County start their own best-of-three series Saturday to determine Area III’s third seed for the state tournament.

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