Members of Randolph County Post 45 gather after a loss in the Area 3 semifinal series in Salisbury. (PJ Ward-Brown/Randolph Record)
SALISBURY – Randolph County Post 45 will have a gap in its schedule before resuming play next month in American Legion baseball.
Post 45 wasn’t able to reach the Area 3 championship series based on Monday night’s 5-0 loss to Rowan County Post 342 in Game 5 of the best-of-5 semifinal series.
Rowan County won Games 1 and 3, so it won each of its home games at Newman Park on the Catawba College campus.
Randolph County (23-6) will have more games this season after a layoff of more than two weeks. Post 45, as the host team, has an automatic spot in the Southeast Regional that runs from Aug. 2-6 at McCrary Park in Asheboro.
Rowan County (35-5) plays High Point-Thomasville Post 87 (17-3) in Thursday night’s winner-take-all Area 3 final. Both teams advance to next week’s state tournament in Buies Creek. Post 87 swept Kannapolis Post 115 in the other semifinal series.
Rowan County goes for a repeat because last year it topped Randolph County in the Area 3 title game.
Randolph County was limited to two hits in Monday night’s game. Those were by Grat Dalton and Hunter Atkins.
Samuel Asbill was the losing pitcher in the decisive game. Rowan County, aided by a pair of errors, plated five runs in the first inning. Atkins and Tanner Marsh combined for five shutout innings in relief for Post 45.
The first four games of the Area 3 semifinal series were defined by lopsided scores.
The series began last Thursday in Salisbury, where the game was suspended with Rowan County leading 6-1 and completed the next day in Asheboro with Post 342 winning 8-2.
Later Friday, Post 45 got even with an 11-0 result that included two home runs and six runs batted in by Atkins in a 10-run six-inning. His grand slam ended the game via the mercy rule. Meanwhile, pitcher Drake Purvis threw a no-hitter with six strikeouts and two walks. The game’s first run didn’t come until Carter Brown’s solo homer with two outs in the fifth.
Rowan County responded Saturday night in Salisbury, scoring five first-inning runs off Austin Lemons on the way to a 10-0, five-inning rout.
Randolph County had answers Sunday afternoon at McCrary Park by overcoming a two-run deficit. Post 45 pulled within 2-1 in the third inning before another 10-run sixth.
Marsh’s grand slam followed by Atkins’ homer put Post 45 in control. Brown drove in two runs. Robert Garner pitched a complete game with five strikeouts.