American Legion Baseball: Rowan wraps up division title

Published 1:49 am Sunday, June 30, 2024



Staff report

MOCKSVILLE — Rowan County’s American Legion baseball team won 16-4 at Mocksville on Saturday night to take another Area III Southern Division championship.

It’s a mini-championship of a downsized, four-team division, but after starting the season 2-7, Rowan (14-10, 6-2) will certainly take it.

It was a more challenging game than it sounds.

Mocksville actually led 4-2 after three innings and had ace Shawn Sealey on the mound, but Rowan took the lead for good in the fourth and buried Mocksville with a hard-to-believe, 11-run snowball that just kept rolling in the top of the sixth at Rich Park’s Mando Field.

That was Rowan’s biggest inning all season.

Mocksville was missing some lineup staples but was hitting Rowan pitcher Brant Graham pretty hard early. Graham (3-2) settled in and was strong in the third, fourth and fifth innings.

Rowan has limited power, but has figured out over the last two weeks what it can do well offensively. The bunt, the steal and the hit-and-run have become a major part of Rowan’s identity. Rowan’s two-run first inning was set up by Nate Hayworth’s sacrifice bunt that moved two runners into scoring position. Luke Graham’s single and Elijah Palmer’s sac fly got the runs home.

Mocksville (8-12, 5-4) scored the next four runs, including a two-run single by Mason Moxley.

The game swung in the Rowan fourth. Rowan’s three-run inning was set up by Joe Burleyson’s hit-and-run single that followed a lead-off single by Palmer. After Burleyson stole second, Drew Burton’s two-run single made it 4-all. With runners at second and third and one out, Logan Dyer hit into a fielder’s choice that plated the tie-breaking run.

When Rowan left the bases loaded and failed to score in the top of the fifth, Mocksville still had plenty of energy, down by a single run, but Brant Graham struck out three straight batters in the bottom of the fifth.

Then Rowan hitters exploded in the top of the sixth. There were nine hits in the inning, plus two walks and a hit batsman. Luke Graham’s two-run double capped the fun. He had four RBIs to lead the offense.

Everyone in the Rowan lineup scored. Eight different players had RBIs.

Nate Greene pitched the bottom of the sixth and struck out the side to end the game via the 10-run rule.

While Rowan has clinched the division, it still has a regular-season game left on Sunday night at Newman Park against Concord.

In the Northern Division, High Point (16-3, 6-1) prevailed against Randolph County on Saturday and is in great position to win the division. Randolph County (10-11, 4-3) and Davidson County (15-10, 3-3) are the other contenders. Randolph County still has a game left with High Point and owns one win over High Point, so High Point hasn’t clinched the No. 1 spot yet.

Rowan will play in a best-of-five playoff series against the Northern Division runner-up, starting on July 3, and will have home-field advantage for that series.

Mocksville will play a best-of-five against the Northern Division champion.


Rowan’s Kry Hernandez has missed several games with a twisted ankle. Pitcher Alex Heglar has been sidelined following an appendectomy.