American Legion baseball: One bad inning and Rowan loses

Published 9:28 pm Sunday, June 23, 2024


Staff report

SALISBURY — Looking for his first win of the American Legion baseball summer, Rowan County right-hander Evan Koontz couldn’t have pitched a whole lot better on Saturday night.

He had St. Mary’s (Md.) rapping the ball on the ground, and Rowan fielders were in the right places and making all the right moves, including two snappy double plays up the middle.

Rowan led 5-1 when Koontz departed after five innings with another Rowan victory at Newman Park seemingly well under control.

But Rowan unraveled in the sixth, as St. Mary’s put up a seven-run inning and went on to take an 8-6 victory.

Eli Graham (1-1) was saddled with the loss, but uncharacteristic defensive lapses were at least as much at fault as the relief pitching.

Playing against a different St. Mary’s team than the one it beat on Friday, Rowan grabbed a 2-0 lead in the first inning without getting a hit. Logan Dyer and Matthew Connolly walked. After a double steal, Nate Hayworth’s sac fly and Luke Graham’s groundout plated runs.

Joe Burleyson singled and scored on Dyer’s groundout to make it 3-0 in the second.

St. Mary’s got on the board in the third, scoring a run with the aid of Koontz’s throwing error.

Rowan kept adding on. Hayworth scored on an error in the third. Dyer’s sac fly got another run home in the fourth for that 5-1 lead that suddenly melted away in that ugly, seven-run sixth with a flurry of hits and mistakes.

Tyler Hill pitched a scoreless top of the seventh to settle things down.

Rowan’s third sac fly of the game cut the deficit to 8-6 seventh, but the visitors held on.