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Legion Baseball: Randolph shells Kannapolis, takes 2-0 lead in Area III semifinal series

Staff report

KANNAPOLIS — Kannapolis’ chances in Game 2 against Randolph County evaporated on one pitch.

Randolph had seized a 2-0 lead in the top of the third inning, but with two men out and two on base, Kannapolis hurler Rohan Handa had gotten ahead of Randolph’s Spencer Lanier, 0-and-2.

The next pitch wasn’t where Handa and catcher Austin Dayvault wanted it, and Lanier sent a three-run homer screaming over the right-field fence at Northwest Cabarrus High.

So 2-0 turned into 5-0 in a hurry and Randolph went on from there to clobber Kannapolis, 12-2, in six innings in Game 2 of their Area III semifinal series.

“It was just a bad night,” Kannapolis coach Joe Hubbard said. “Rohan was dealing with a blister from the second inning on, and it just wasn’t his night — or our night.”

Randolph (21-14) leads the best-of-five series two games to none and has a chance to close it out today at McCrary Park at 1 p.m. The winner of this series will oppose the High Point-Rowan County winner for the Area III championship. High Point and Rowan are tied at a game apiece, with Game 3 at Finch Field today.

Randolph Post 45 pounded 13 hits. Besides Lanier’s key blast, Dawson Painter and Bryce Marsh also connected for homers. Painter’s two-run shot and Marsh’s solo came against reliever Jack Robinson.

Kannapolis  Post 115 (15-10) managed only four hits against Randolph starter and winner Trevor Marsh and reliever Travis Winslow, who pitched the sixth and held the 10-run lead. The 10-run mercy rule, which wasn’t employed during the regular season, has been in effect during the playoffs.

Lane Argabright had two hits for Kannapolis.

Kannapolis was down 7-0 before it got a little momentum in the middle innings, picking up a run in the fourth and another one in the fifth to make it 7-2.

Kannapolis had the bases loaded in the fourth, but Marsh got Kannapolis lead-off man Jason White to ground out to end a promising inning.

“We hit a lot of balls hard early on, but their outfield made some really nice plays, ran some balls down in the gaps,” Hubbard said.

Ryan O’Kelly (sacrifice fly) and Cord Butler (fielder’s choice) drove in Kannapolis runs.

White, the South Piedmont Conference Pitcher of the Year, will be on the mound this afternoon. Kannapolis’ top reliever, Jacob Tuttle, is also available.

If Kannapolis can figure out a way to stay alive today, Butler probably would take the mound for Game 4.

Michael Harrell pinch-ran on Friday but has stitches in a hand after sustaining a cut and can’t swing a bat.

“He’s our cleanup guy and we’ve only scored two runs in two games, so, yeah, we miss him,” Hubbard said. “But we’ve just got to go play a better game on Saturday. We’ll find out what we’re made of.”

Randolph        005  205  —12

Kannapolis     000 110  — 2

W — Trevor Marsh. L — Handa (6-2).

HR — Randolph: Lanier, Painter, Bryce Marsh.

Leading hitters — Randolph: Troy Kinney 3-for-3, 2 RBIs; Landon Smith 3-for-4; Lanier 2-for-4, 4 RBIs; Bryce Marsh 2-for-3, 2 RBIs; Painter 2-for-3, 3 RBIs. Kannapolis: Argabright  2-for-2.

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