Legion Baseball: Three-hour no decision for Rowan County
By Mike London
SALISBURY — Officially, Rowan County’s American Legion baseball team didn’t play on Saturday night, although a lot of fans spent three futile hours at Newman Park.
The non-league game was halted in the top of the fifth by lightning, two outs shy of an official game, with Rowan County leading Jacksonville, 9-5. The ensuing downpour at 10 p.m. made certain there could be no resumption of play. The infield at Newman Park was a lake at that point.
The game started on time, but with Rowan leading 2-0 in the bottom of the second inning, a lightning flash in the distance, stopped the action at about 7:40 p.m. A lightning sighting by umpires means an automatic 30-minute delay. After more lightning flashes, followed by considerable rain, the teams warmed up and returned to the field at about 9 p.m.
Jacksonville had traveled more than 200 miles and more than four hours, so every effort was made to complete the game, even with radar showing another storm system heading for the ballpark.
Rowan built a comfortable, 9-0 lead, and play continued for long minutes in the top of the fifth inning, even with lightning much closer than it had been earlier.
Rowan (4-3) was granted every opportunity to get the three outs in the top of the fifth that were necessary to make it an official game, but Jacksonville (1-3) drew walks and got hits and stayed alive until Mother Nature finally made it too dangerous to continue.
There were some statistical losses for Rowan. Starting pitcher Caleb Link lost two shutout innings. Trevor Atwood lost a three-run homer. Jake Pritchard lost two RBIs, Lee Poteat lost three steals, and Juan Garcia lost a 3-for-3 effort that included two blistering doubles.
Rowan scored two runs in the second on back-to-back doubles by Garcia and Pritchard and a double steal on which Poteat beat a throw to second, and Pritchard slid home from third.
Rowan took advantage of a string of walks in the third inning to take a 5-0 lead. Pritchard knocked in a run with a line-drive sac fly to right, and Rowan’s fourth and fifth runs scored on wild pitches.
Rowan’s four-run fourth that pushed the lead to 9-0 included a run-scoring hit by Poteat as well as Atwood’s majestic, three-run homer over the left-field wall.
Link started on the mound for Rowan and was fine, but his night was ended by the lightning delay. Hayden Setzer pitched a scoreless third, ran into control problems in the fourth, and was bailed out by Myrick.
But Myrick encountered all sorts of trouble in the fifth. There were two singles and two walks before a two-run double was whipped to right field by Chad Shepherd to make it 9-3. A run-scoring groundout and a run-producing single by Jaysen Lagusis, who started the game on the mound for Jacksonville, made it 9-5.
At that juncture, lightning made it impossible to continue, and umpires waved everyone off the field.
Weather permitting, Rowan returns to league action tonight at Newman Park at 7:00 against Concord.
NOTES: Rowan first baseman Hunter Shepherd is batting .500 with a team-best 11 RBIs. Poteat is batting .500 with 10 RBIs. … Sawyer Strickland has pitched 11 1/3 scoreless innings, while Brandon White has thrown seven scoreless frames in two outings. … Bryan Ketchie is 2-0 with an ERA of 2.63.