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Legion tournament: Myers comes through in clutch, Rowan wins state title

SALISBURY — With the pressure on and Rowan County clinging to a 4-3 lead, Riley Myers struck out the side in the top of the ninth inning against High Point to claim victory in the North Carolina American Legion State Tournament.

Myers pitched a complete game to earn the victory and to etch his name on the trophy as the tournament’s MVP.

High Point right fielder Jake Moebius blasted a leadoff home run to left field off Myers to cut Rowan County’s lead to one run. Rowan County head coach Jim Gantt was going to pull Myers from the game, but Myers said he told the coach he had it all the way.

Myers sent Corey Brandenburg and Kip Brandenburg back to the dugout on a pair of called strike threes for the first tow outs. Then Myers got Luke Gesell to go down swinging to end the game.

Myers had nine strikeouts in nine innings while giving up three runs on nine hits. He did not issue a single walk.

Rowan County, which won its first state title since 2009, advances to the American Legion Southeast Region tournament in Asheboro. It’s first game is at 4:30 p.m. Aug. 5 against the state champion from West Virginia. Randolph County has an automatic bid into the regional tournament as the host. There will also be teams from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia.

High Point took a 1-0 lead in top of the second inning when Corey Brandenburg hit a sacrifice fly to center field. Rowan County tied the game in the bottom of the third when Harrison Baucom, with Jeremy Simpson on third base, pulled an outside pitch to left field.

Third baseman Juan Garcia’s leadoff home run over the F&M Bank sign in the bottom of the fifth inning gave Rowan County a 2-1 lead. Garcia was 2-for-4 with two runs scored. Heath Mitchem was the leading hitter with three and an RBI.

High Point tied the game in the top of the sixth with an RBI single that scored Kip Brandenburg from second base.

Rowan came through with a pair of clutch runs in the bottom of the eighth. Mitchem hit an RBI single that allowed Juan Garcia to score. The throw came in hot, but Garcia slid under catcher Ryan Caveness to take a 3-2 lead. Hunter Shepherd’s single to center field, his first hit of the day, scored Kacey Otto and gave Rowan County a two-run cushion going into the ninth inning.

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