American Legion baseball: Davidson downs Rowan twice, can end series Sunday

Published 1:07 pm Sunday, July 7, 2024

Staff report

SALISBURY — Rowan County hitters left 12 men on base and Rowan pitchers walked 10 batters on Saturday in an agonizing 9-6 American Legion baseball playoff loss to Davidson County in eight innings.

It’s tough to overcome either of those things. When both happen, a frustrating night is a sure thing, and on a 1 to 10 frustration scale, this one was at least a 9.

Rowan County (16-12) made two exciting comebacks and had opportunities to win, but didn’t. Now Davidson County (19-12) leads the best-of-five series two games to one and will have a chance to close out Rowan at Holt-Moffitt Field at  7 p.m. on Sunday night.

It started badly for Rowan for the third straight game, as Davidson Post 8 once again put up three runs in the first inning. That’s been automatic so far. Rowan starting pitcher Evan Koontz got only two outs. Reliever Nate Greene settled things down, kept the deficit at 3-0 and gave Rowan a chance to rally.

Two walks and singles by No. 8 and No. 9 hitters Krys Hernandez and Eli Graham made it 3-1 in the bottom of the second against Davidson starter Grayson Barrier, but Rowan left the bases loaded.

Matthew Connolly crushed his second homer of the summer — and also Rowan’s second — leading off the third inning. After a walk and a two-out single by Joe Burleyson kept the inning alive, Brant Graham’s single made it 3-3.

Burleyson took the mound for the fourth, Greene had done a terrific job, and the plan was for Burleyson to start putting up zeroes, as he usually does. But that didn’t happen. Three walks preceded Davidson’s biggest hit of the game — a bases-clearing, down-the-line double by Dawson Shelton for a 6-3 lead for the visitors.

Luke Graham, making his first pitching appearance of the season for Rowan, entered the game for the top of the sixth and had a 1-2-3 inning.

Rowan had a great chance in the bottom of the sixth when Hernandez and Eli Graham got on base again, sending Rowan back to the top of the lineup with no outs. Reliever Chris Shoemaker entered at that point and limited Rowan to one run. Hernandez was able to advance to third on Logan Dyer’s fly ball to right and scored on Connolly’s line-drive sacrifice fly to cut Rowan’s deficit to 6-4.

After Luke Graham (0-1) put up another zero in the Davidson seventh, Rowan tied it in the bottom of the inning. Shoemaker walked a batter and was relieved by Carson Daniels, who walked the next one. Hernandez made the second out but moved the runners. Then Eli Graham, with Rowan down to its last strike, came through again, sending a two-run double into the gap to make it 6-all.

After Dyer walked, Connolly had a chance to win it, but Shelton, Davidson’s third baseman, made a good play on a hard-hit ball.

Rowan had some momentum at that point, but it didn’t last. Davidson’s eighth inning started with a walk, two singles and a wild pitch, and it was 8-6. Davidson added one more on a run-scoring groundout. Charlie Beck had the single that put Davidson ahead, 7-6.

Davidson dropped an infield popup in the bottom of the eighth, but Rowan went down quietly, and it was over.


In Game 2 at Holt-Moffitt Field on Friday,  Davidson County pitcher Thomas Hester, a West Davidson southpaw, shut down Rowan for six innings and keyed the 7-4 victory that got Post 8 even in the series.

Brant Graham (3-3) took the loss.

Sam Beck had three hits for Post 8, while Shoemaker drove in three runs.

Rowan scored only one run against Hester. That was on Nate Hayworth’s sacrifice fly in the third inning after an intentional walk to Connolly had loaded the bases.

Rowan scored three runs against the Post 8 bullpen in the seventh on a hit by Dyer, a walk to Connolly and two-out doubles by Luke Graham and Elijah Palmer.


High Point won its series with Mocksville three games to one and will play the Rowan-Davidson winner for the Area III championship.

High Point won 8-2 at home on Friday and held off Mocksville 8-6 at Rich Park on Saturday after a lightning delay.