American Legion baseball: Rowan bounces back in a big way

Published 8:50 am Sunday, July 16, 2023


By Mike London

SALISBURY — You don’t expect teams of the caliber of Rowan County and Randolph County to ever get 10-run ruled.

But it’s happened two straight nights in their much anticipated best-of-five Area III semifinal series that will determine a state qualifier.

Randolph Post 45 kicked Rowan to the curb 11-0 in six innings on Friday at McCrary Park.

Payback came Saturday at Newman Park. Rowan routed Randolph 10-0 in five.

“Baseball is a crazy game,” offered Rowan head coach Jim Gantt, who has seen plenty of craziness during his long career as a college and American Legion coach.

They’ll return to McCrary Park on Sunday afternoon for Game 4. First pitch will be at 2 p.m. because the Asheboro Copperheads are home for a collegiate summer wood bat game on Sunday night.

Rowan County (35-4) was going to go one of two ways after being no-hit and humbled and hammered during Randolph’s 10-run sixth inning in Game 2.

Lay down — or get ticked off.

Not surprisingly, Rowan chose the latter approach. Rowan scored five runs in the bottom of the first in Game 3 while fans were still finding places to put their lawn chairs.

With one out, Blake Hill doubled. Then Luke Graham doubled. Then Morgan Padgett doubled.

Aiden Schenck didn’t double, but his single kept things rolling. Hayden Simmerson hit a sacrifice fly for a 3-0 lead.

After Cole Johnson walked, Elijah Palmer got the biggest hit of all. He creamed a two-out triple to give Rowan a 5-0 lead.

Randolph (22-5) put two men on base against Rowan lefty Mikey Beasley in the first inning, but he got through that inning.

Then it was 5-0 when Beasley returned to the mound.

“All the pressure was off then,” Beasley said. “Just had to throw strikes.”

Beasley (5-0) threw strikes. He kept hitters off balance. He allowed two hits and three walks. He struck out three and stayed undefeated this summer after experiencing a hard-luck high school season at Carson.

Randolph sluggers hit lots of balls in the ai against Beasley, but they stayed in the park.

It stayed 5-0 a long time, but a JT Taylor solo blast — he crushed his 10th homer of the summer over the wall in left-center — made it 6-0 in the fourth.

Schenck got on base in front of the two-run homer to center by Simmerson in the fifth that made it 8-0.

At that point, Rowan could smell the 10-run rule and went after it. Johnson and Palmer hit ground balls that found holes.

Randolph couldn’t get an out on Cameron Burleyson’s ground ball when Palmer beat the throw to second.

Taylor hit a flyball for the first out, but Hill’s flyout was deep enough to get a run home, and it was 9-0.

When the first baseman couldn’t handle Graham’s hard ground ball, it was all over — 10-0.

Who pitches Game 4 for Rowan?

Look for Corbin Bailey (3-0, 1.22 ERA) to get the ball.

WSAT  will broadcast the action if you can’t make it to Asheboro.

If Game 5 is needed, it will be played at Newman Park on Monday.