American Legion baseball: Randolph evens series with Rowan County

Published 8:45 pm Sunday, July 16, 2023

Staff report

ASHEBORO — To no one’s surprise, Rowan County and Randolph County will go the full five games in their Area III semifinal series.

There were plenty of twists and turns to get to this point, with one suspended game, two 10-run rule games and a crazy 11-2 Randolph blowout win on Sunday.

Rowan won Game 1 mostly at Newman Park before weather forced a suspension and also won Game 3 in the friendly confines, but Randolph held serve in a big way in Games 2 and 4 on its home field.

It’s been 8-2, 0-11, 10-0, 2-11 so far.

So Rowan’s season comes down to a single, pressure-cooker game on Monday night at 7 p.m. at Newman Park.

Win it and Rowan plays for the Area III championship against High Point on Thursday and goes to the state tournament.

Lose it and Rowan will pack up the uniforms and call it a season.

Rowan is 35-5, but four of those losses have been to Randolph County.

On Sunday, Rowan got a terrific start from Corbin Bailey.

Bailey started some humongous high school games for West Rowan and the moment wasn’t too big for him. He threw a lot of strike-one breaking balls, fanned six in five innings and had a 2-1 lead in a tense battle with Randolph pitcher Robert Garner,

The game turned sharply and suddenly in the bottom of the sixth, when Randolph opened with a single and a walk. That got a tiring Bailey out of the game, and, as was the case in Game 2, Rowan’s bullpen didn’t have any luck getting Randolph hitters out.

Alex Hagler relieved Bailey. Tyler Parks got a sacrifice bunt down with two strikes on him, and when the ball was thrown away, it was 2-all with runners at second and third and no outs. An intentional walk loaded the bases. Au unintentional walk put Randolph ahead 3-2 and a solid hit made it 5-2.

Rowan also tried Joe Burleyson and Drew Burton, but they couldn’t stop the onslaught.

Tanner Marsh socked a grand slam to make it 10-2. Hunter Atkins followed with his third bomb of the series for an 11-2 lead.

Maverick Walters relieved and got a couple of outs with a runner at second base to prevent it from being another 10-run rule game, but Rowan went down quietly in the seventh to bring on Game 5.

Rowan missed a few chances to build a lead a lead early.

JT Taylor opened the game with a screaming double off the left-field wall, but he was left stranded.

In the second inning, singles by Aiden Schenck and Matthew Connolly sandwiched around a walk to Cole Johnson loaded the bases for Rowan with one out, but Rowan was only able to get one run — on a bases-loaded walk to Taylor.

Schenck pulled a solo homer to right in the third for a 2-0 lead, but after that, Garner was very tough.

Rowan is expected to send Hayden Simmerson (6-0) to the mound on Monday. He won Game 1 of the series.