American Legion baseball: Rowan outslugs Mocksville, wins series
Published 10:52 pm Wednesday, July 13, 2022
By Mike London
MOCKSVILLE — No truth to the rumors that Rowan County’s Casey Gouge is changing his first name to Shohei.
Gouge, who pitched Rowan to a tense 1-0 win against Mocksville in Tuesday’s opener in the Area III playoffs, finished off Mocksville in the best-of-three series with his bat.
Rowan used a DH to swing for Gouge on Tuesday, but he was stationed at first base on Wednesday and whacked two home runs at Rich Park to highlight a wild 16-6 victory.
Gouge scored four times and drove in four. The homers were his second and third of the season.
Rowan (30-7) won its 15th in a row and had 13 hits. Cole Johnson, Aiden Schenck, Luke Graham and Cameron Burleyson had two hits each.
Mocksville (10-19) played a terrific game on Tuesday, but made eight errors 24 hours later. Rowan (30-7) took advantage of all those extra outs to win its 15th game in a row.
Mocksville led early. Ryan Thiel’s two-run double keyed a three-run first inning against Rowan starting pitcher Jake Blevins for a 3-1 lead.
Johnson’s sacrifice fly and Schenck’s RBI single got Rowan back to 3-all tie in the top of the third, but Mocksville answered with a two-run triple by Hunter Daywalt to go back ahead 5-3.
Rowan’s eight-run fourth changed everything. Rowan sent 13 men to the plate in that inning.
Gouge started it with a single against Mocksville starting pitcher Darren Shore. An error allowed Rowan to tie the game at 5-all.
Bunt singles by Graham and Burleyson put Rowan ahead 6-5 and turned the lineup over.
Jackson Deal’s sacrifice fly made it 7-5. After another error allowed a run to score, Gouge socked the three-run homer that broke the game open at 11-5.
Blevins made it through four innings, exiting with an 11-6 lead and was credited with the win.
Schenck singled home a run in the fifth for a 12-6 lead. Gouge belted a solo homer to open the sixth.
Rowan kept scoring, getting additional runs on RBI groundouts by Johnson and Burleyson. Elijah Palmer got a run home on an HBP.
Drew Burton quieted Mocksville’s bats in the fifth and sixth, as Rowan took control. Zander Burton pitched a scoreless seventh, making it three zeroes for the Burton brothers.
Dan Loyd had three hits for Mocksville.
Rowan will await its next opponent — Stanly County or Eastern Randolph. Stanly leads that quarterfinal series 1-0. Stanly won 7-6 Tuesday. Those teams were washed out at Stanly on Wednesday.
Kannapolis swept its series with Davidson County, winning 6-5 on the road on Wednesday and ending the game and the series on a pickoff play. Ty Hubbard smashed a three-run homer. Isaiah Black drove in two runs.
Randolph finished off a dominant sweep of Mooresville with a 9-0 victory.
The semifinal series for Rowan is the biggest one and will be best-of-five. It will start at Newman Park on July 16.
Both Area III semifinalists qualify for the state tournament to be held at Campbell University.
Rowan Co. 102 812 2 — 16 13 2
Mocksville 302 100 0 — 6 9 8
W — Blevins (7-1). L — Shore.
HR — Rowan: Gouge 2 (3).