American Legion baseball: Rowan wins at home

Published 6:27 pm Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Staff report

SALISBURY — Rowan County’s American Legion team owns a modest 5-8 record, but is trending in the right direction.

Rowan has won three of its last four outings after beating Davidson County 6-2 on Monday night at Newman Park. Rowan had lost twice to Davidson earlier in the season.

Rowan sent four pitchers to the mound, and the committee of Joe Burleyson, Tyler Hill, Drew Burton (1-1) and Nate Hayworth got the job done. Both of Davidson’s runs came with the aid of errors. Burton, who pitched the fifth and sixth was credited with the win, as the bottom of the fifth proved decisive.

Burton began the game as Rowan’s third baseman. When Burton shifted to the mound for the top of the fifth in a 2-all game, Evan Koontz entered the game at third base and replaced DH Southern Smith-Tilley as the ninth man in Rowan’s batting order.

Koontz led off the fifth with a base hit, and lead-off man Matthew Connolly also singled.

Logan Dyer was next and hit the ball hard but right to the third-base bag. Davidson County had a 5-3 double play that threatened to kill the inning.

But Nate Hayworth got a two-out hit to score Connolly from second base. Connolly is an unusual catcher in the sense that he might be Rowan’s best baserunner. Hayworth’s hit was the biggest swing of the night, a momentum-changer. Luke Graham walked to extend the inning, and Rowan got two more two-out hits from Elijah Palmer and Drew Burton. Suddenly, Rowan led 6-2.

That was the ball game, as seven-inning baseball is a totally different animal than nine-inning Legion games used to be.

Burton got Davidson out in the sixth. Hayworth handled the seventh. He didn’t qualify for a save with a four-run lead, but he finished the night off smoothly.

Rowan got a run in the first inning when Dyer singled and scored from first when Hayworth bunted for a hit. There was no play at first, but Davidson tried to make it, anyway, and the ball got away.

Burton walked, stole second and scored on a single by Brant Graham to break a 1-all tie in the second.

Rowan is averaging 3.5 runs per game — but is showing signs of producing more offense.

Rowan gets two nights off now and won’t play again until it takes on Concord on Thursday at A.L. Brown High. Concord is playing home games against this summer in Kannapolis.