American Legion baseball: Rowan seeks perfect division record

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Staff report

KANNAPOLIS — Rowan County usually rules the Southern Division of Area III, and this summer has been no exception.

After a shaky start, Rowan has pieced together a pitching staff and has blossomed into a 27-7 team that has won 12 in a row, as the regular season winds down.

When Rowan hosts Stanly County tonight at Newman Park in a regular-season finale, Rowan will be looking to wrap up a perfect record in the division.

Rowan County moved to 11-0 in the division with a sudden rally for an 8-4 win at Kannapolis on Sunday.

One sweet swing by McCall Henderson — a grand slam in the sixth off Kannapolis ace Joe Javier — changed everything. That shot turned a 3-1 deficit into a 5-3 lead.

Other heroes for Rowan County were Jackson Deal, who caught everything in center field and delivered three hits, and relief pitcher Drew Burton (4-0), who was outstanding after entering the game in the third inning. Rowan employed five pitchers, with starter Alex Hagler and Casey Crawford preceding Burton, and with Zander Burton, Drew’s big brother, and Luke Graham finishing on the mound.

Drew Burton got the last out in the third, then sailed through a strong Kannapolis lineup in the fourth, fifth and sixth. It was a well-earned win.

The first four innings belonged to Javier, a Pfeiffer recruit from Cox Mill.

With Javier, who came into the game 7-0, making quick work of Rowan’s lineup, Kannapolis took advantage of walks and built a 3-0 lead. A double steal set up two Kannapolis runs in the third.

Rowan started to figure out Javier in the fifth when two-out hits by Matthew Connolly and Cole Johnson got Rowan on the scoreboard. Johnson tried to score on a hit by Deal, but was thrown out at the plate.

Then all heck broke loose in the sixth, as Rowan batted around.

Hits by Aiden Schenck and Blake Hill and a walk to Casey Gouge filled the bases. After Zach McNeely lined out, Henderson unloaded the bases in a hurry with his blast to center field.

Henderson homered for the second straight game. A strong, left-handed jayvee player who is a rising junior at East Rowan, he’s become a big part of Rowan’s lineup.

Rowan wasn’t done. The hits kept coming after Kannapolis turned to the bullpen. Deal’s two-run single gave Rowan an 8-3 cushion.

Kannapolis got a run in the seventh, but the game ended on a double play, with Deal making a catch and throwing out a runner trying to advance to third.

Kannapolis (15-6, 6-4) has regular-season games left with Mooresville and Davidson County.

Stanly County lost 13-3 to Mocksville on Sunday to fall to 6-5 in the division. Mocksville finished division play with a 5-7 mark.

The best-of-three first round of the Area III playoffs starts on July 8. Rowan County has secured a first-round bye.


Rowan             000  017  0  — 8

Kannapolis     102    000  1 — 4

HR — Rowan: Henderson (3).

W — D. Burton (4-0). L — Javier (7-1).