American Legion Baseball: Rowan wins two in Shelby

Published 9:50 pm Saturday, June 25, 2016

Staff report

SHELBY — The Rowan County American Legion team stretched its winning streak to eight by winning two challenging games here Saturday at Keeter Stadium, home of the Legion World Series.
Rowan won, 4-1, in a matinee against Gaffney, S.C. Post 109, with Caleb Link (2-0) pitching a seven-inning complete game. Link was in control after a shaky first inning.
Tanner File drove in two runs, Trevor Atwood hammered two doubles, Seth Cauble and Chandler Blackwelder had two hits each, and Juan Garcia added a double.
Third baseman Garcia, first baseman Hunter Shepherd and center fielder Blackwelder keyed Rowan’s defense behind Link.
Gaffney is 12-3.
Both of Saturday’s games were scheduled for seven innings, but Rowan (18-7) had to go nine innings to beat Shelby Post 82, 7-2, in the afternoon.
Blackwelder caught a fly ball and made the throw home to catcher Jake Pritchard as Rowan cut down what would’ve been the winning run for Shelby at the plate to end the bottom of the eighth. Pritchard came up the third-base line to glove the throw and made the tag on a tumbling runner.
Then Rowan got five runs in the top of the ninth.
The key hit in the ninth was delivered by Brandon Walton. His opposite-field single to left with the bases loaded scored two runs and snapped a 2-all deadlock that had persisted since the first inning. Rowan had left 10 men on base before Walton came through.
Rowan then tacked on three insurance runs on a bases-loaded walk to Brett Graham, a run-scoring single by Cauble, and an error on a ground ball hit by File.
Blackwelder had three hits, while Graham, Walton and Lee Poteat had two each.
Hayden Setzer started on the mound for Rowan and was good after the first inning. The lefty worked into the sixth, leaving with a two-on, one-out jam. Noah Gonzalez (1-0) relieved Setzer, got Rowan out of the sixth and pitched the rest of the way to earn the win.
Gonzalez became the ninth Rowan pitcher to log a win this summer.
Shelby fell to 6-10.
Rowan returns to Area III Southern Division action tonight with a game against Concord at Mount Pleasant High School. Rowan is 6-0 in division play and is close to wrapping up the first-round playoff bye that will go to the division champion. Sawyer Strickland (3-1) is expected to pitch tonight.