American Legion Baseball: Rowan advances with a win …. and maybe with a loss

Published 12:41 am Sunday, August 14, 2016

By Mike London

Rowan County plays Kennewick, Wash., at 12:30 this afternoon at Shelby’s Keeter Stadium, with an excellence chance to advance to Monday’s semifinals in the American Legion World Series.
Rowan County (39-12) is playing in the four-team Stripes pool and bounced back from an error-plagued, 6-3, loss to Rockport, Ind., on Thursday to beat Omaha, Neb., 5-2, on Friday.
Indiana scored seven runs early and wrapped up the pool’s No. 1 seed late Saturday night with an 8-3 win against Nebraska. Indiana, which has lost only once all season, went 3-0 in pool play. Nebraska went 1-2.
Two teams will advance from the Stripes pool. That second team will be determined today by the the final game in the pool between Rowan and Kennewick, Wash. Rowan is 1-1, while Washington is 0-2.
If Rowan wins, it finishes 2-1 and advances to the semifinals as the pool runner-up.
But Rowan also could advance even if it loses — so long as it doesn’t lose while allowing a ton of runs.
If Rowan falls, it finishes 1-2 and lands in a three-way tie with Washington and Nebraska. The Legion tiebreaker formula for a three-way tie is, not surprisingly, somewhat complicated. Shelby star sports editor Alan Ford said he was handed five typed pages explaining potential scenarios involving a three-way tie between teams A, B and C.
Breaking it down as simply as possible, the tiebreaker, if needed, will be runs allowed per half-inning.
Runs allowed per half-inning addresses the possibility of weather-shortened games, extra-inning games, 10-run rule games that go only seven innings and normal losses by a visiting team in which a club played only eight defensive innings.
But it all boils down to runs allowed, and Rowan is in fine shape in that regard entering this afternoon’s game.
Nebraska allowed 18 runs in three games. Washington, which allowed 14 runs in a loss to Nebraska, has yielded 19 runs so far.
Rowan has allowed eight runs.
In a perfect world for Rowan coaches, players and fans, the team simply goes out and wins today. Just keep in mind that a low-scoring loss wouldn’t be the end of the world.
Who pitches?
If Rowan sticks with the normal rotation, lefty Brandon White will get the ball, but right-hander Sawyer Strickland and lefty Hunter Shepherd also are possibilities.
White is 7-1 but wasn’t sharp in his start in the Southeast Regional. Strickland (6-2) was terrific in long relief in the regional and looked strong in two brisk relief innings against Indiana in the World Series opener. Shepherd (2-2) was super in winning the regional championship game and also pitched an inning to save Friday’s victory for Bryan Ketchie. Shepherd’s stuff is impressive — plenty of heat, plus a good curveball.
If Rowan does manage to advance, it would play a semifinal game against the No. 1 seed from the Stars pool at 4 p.m. on Monday. There will be two games in the Stars Pool today following Rowan’s game. San Mateo, Calif., enters today’s play with a 2-0 record.