American Legion baseball: Rowan County welcomes Mustangs, routs Wadesboro

Published 12:27 am Tuesday, June 4, 2024

Staff report

SALISBURY — No bugles blew and no horses charged, but as one Rowan County American Legion parent put it, the cavalry arrived on Monday night.

Logan Dyer, Braden Shive, Nate Hayworth, Joe Burleyson, Krys Hernandez and Tyler Hill were at Newman Park, and not surprisingly, Rowan immediately got a lot better as well as a lot deeper with the addition of six players from East Rowan’s 3A state champs.

Rowan (2-5) pounded Wadesboro 11-2 and could have gotten it done in five innings with no problem, but just about everyone got a chance to take a few swings.

Dyer and Shive were among the county’s elite players during the high school season, while Hayworth and Burleyson are all-county level players. Hernandez will be as valuable as anyone on the roster because he can play so many positions, including catcher. Hill hasn’t had a chance to play at East yet, but his brother, Blake, was a tremendous Legion hitter, so he could be a late bloomer.

Those six joined the crew that has been holding the fort through some tough nights. Rowan still may not be great this summer, but now the team has enough arms and bats to compete in Area III. There are going to be some exciting games.

Hayworth (1-0) was the fifth most important pitcher for a powerhouse East Rowan squad that went 34-2, but he is a quality hurler. He threw four scoreless innings of relief against Wadesboro (0-7), allowing two hits and two walks.

Southern Smith-Tilley, a rising senior at Mooresville who has been the right fielder in the early games, started on the mound for Rowan. He walked five, but he also struck out five and got Rowan through the first three innings. Bryson Buchanon had a two-run single in the third for the Anson runs.

Dyer’s lead-off hit in the bottom of the first was followed by a flurry of walks and one HBP, and Rowan quickly led 3-0.

Hayworth and Hernandez smacked run-scoring hits in the second as Rowan pushed its lead to 5-0.

Rowan showed the most punch it has so far this season in a five-run fourth inning. Shive’s crisp double started that big inning, and Luke Graham and Hernandez got on base. Elijah Palmer’s sac fly made it 6-2. Evan Koontz singled for a run, Burleyson doubled to make it 8-2, and Brant Graham produced a two-run single for a 10-2 lead.

Rowan scored its final run in the fifth when Hill got a run home with an infield out.

Burleyson’s greatest value will come as a pitcher and catcher. He’s never been a high average guy as a hitter, but he has power and he’ll knock a few out of the park. His two doubles paced Rowan’s offense.

Hernandez turned a line drive to left field into a double play, by playing shallow and taking away a base hit. A runner at first base thought it was a sure hit and was doubled off.