Rowan Legion tops Mooresville in extra innings

Published 12:42 am Saturday, June 3, 2017

By David Shaw

MOORESVILLE — Rowan County did just about everything the hard way Friday night — including winning in extra innings.

Post 342 manufactured two unearned runs in the top of the 11th and edged host Mooresville, 6-4, in its Southern Division opener.

“We had to grind out every inning and every at-bat to get the win,” infielder John Owen said after Rowan (6-0) rallied from a two-run deficit. “No amount of runs can keep us from coming back.”

Owen scored the go-ahead run when teammate Henderson Lentz reached on a two-out, two-run throwing error by Mooresville second-baseman Cody Galilland. Lee Poteat, who was walked intentionally earlier in the 11th inning, also came home on the play.

“There’s so much chemistry on this team that no one ever gets down,” winning pitcher Griffin Myers said. “We fight right until the end, just like Hendo did running out that last ground ball.”

Rowan, which earlier trailed 2-0 and 3-1, opened the last inning against right-hander Bailey Jones when Owen singled sharply to left-center and took second when the ball was mishandled by Tafton Hensley. He advanced to third on a groundout before Poteat and Trevor Atwood were issued free passes, loading the bases with two away.

That brought up Lentz, a left-handed batter who entered the game as a late defensive replacement. He pounded a ground ball into no-man’s land between Galilland and first-baseman Jaxon Mays. Galilland fielded the ball, hesitated while Jones raced to cover the bag and fired a low throw that eluded everyone.

“The same thing happened to Carolina in the World Series a few years ago,” said Rowan coach Jim Gantt. “The same thing. The first-baseman couldn’t get there and the second-baseman threw it away. The difference was Lentz hits from the left side and he can run. It was a timing problem there and they had to rush it late and threw it away.”

Myers — Rowan’s fourth pitcher — threw with both bark and bite. He allowed only two infield hits in 4 1/3 innings of scoreless relief, working out of jams in the seventh, eighth, 10th and 11th innings. But before he could shine, right-hander Pearce Wilhelm had to escape a bases-loaded, none-out mess in the bottom of the sixth. Spelling Brett Graham, he fanned Hensley, induced a Hunter Dula flyout and struck out Brady Pope on a 3-2 fastball that caught the outside corner.

“A year ago (Wilhelm) couldn’t be in that situation,” Gantt said. “He’s worked hard to get there. He’s got a little cutter that looks like a fastball and he’s got velocity. It all comes down to decision-making for him.”

Myers retired Mooresville (2-3, 1-1) in order in the last of the ninth before wandering into trouble in the 10th. Post 66 loaded the bases with two out he coaxed Keegan Nimblett into an inning-ending fly ball to center. In the 11th, the Moors put runners at second and third with one man out. That’s when Myers fanned B.J. Lomax with a borderline, 3-2 fastball.

“Russ (Weiker), our pitching coach, came out and told me to put it on the outside corner,” Myers said. “That last one was probably the best pitch I threw all night.”

The game ended on a routine groundout to shortstop Chandler Blackwelder. “The whole time, I was just trying to make them put it in play,” Myers concluded. “I’ve got some of the best people playing behind me.”

NOTES: Southpaw Joe Harrison will start tonight when Rowan visits Davidson County in a non-division matchup at Holt-Moffitt Field. Rowan then hosts Davidson Sunday night at 6 p.m. … Rowan had only six hits but drew 12 walks and benefited from six Mooresville errors in the game that went three hours, 38 minutes. … Poteat’s fifth-inning triple was Rowan’s only extra-base hit.

Rowan           000 010 300 02 — 6   6   2

Mooresville   101 010 100 00 — 4   9   6

WP — Myers (1-0). LP — Jones (0-1).

Leading hitters — Rowan: Poteat 1-for-4, 3 RS; Owen 1-for-2, sac, RS. Mooresvile: Jones 3-for-5; Hensley 2-for-5; Mays 2-for-5.