Legion loses 10th of 11 games

Published 9:04 am Friday, June 14, 2019

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When the Mocksville Legion baseball team was 4-1 on May 23 following a 5-4 win over Eastern Randolph, nobody could have expected the worst 11-game stretch in the program’s 38-year history was about to unfold.

Kannapolis added to Mocksville’s misery on June 6, when the visitors dominated 8-5 in a non-division game – Kannapolis’ second triumph over the local nine in three days.

Mocksville (5-11) walked the plank for the 10th time in 11 games. But just when you think the season could scarcely have gone worse, it got even worse. Joe Johnson might be done for the year. During Mocksville’s struggles from May 25-June 6, Johnson was one of the clear bright spots. The rising senior at Davie is hitting .520 with 23 runs, 26 hits, two homers and 16 RBIs. He is first or tied for first in each category.

Johnson was not at the park against Kannapolis on June 6, and his season could be over. He left for New York to visit family. If there is a Joe Johnson Fan Club, coach Charles Kurfees may qualify as president. He’s raved about him all season. Mocksville is idle from June 7-14. Kurfees is crossing his fingers that Johnson returns by June 17, if not by the next game June 15. If he doesn’t return, it’s going to be a very, very big blow to overcome. There’s no other way to describe Johnson’s value as a slugger/third baseman/relief pitcher.

Kurfees: “He’s having a career year. He’s gone to New York – for the rest of the summer. He’s up there where his uncles are. I said: ‘Are you going to be back next Saturday (June 15)?’ He said: ‘I don’t know if I’m coming back.’ If he’s not back … I don’t know what to do. I hope he’ll be back.”

Two days earlier against Kannapolis, Mocksville watched a 2-1 lead disappear in the fifth. In the rematch, Mocksville unraveled much earlier. Post 115 took a 2-0 lead in the first, and it could have been worse as it left the bases loaded.

Mocksville’s only chance to make things interesting came in the second. Spencer Claus and David Highman were at the corners with one out. Hunter Meacham lined into a 5-3 double play. It’s been that kind of year for Mocksville.

Kannapolis pushed the margin to 3-0 in the third, to 6-0 in the fourth and to 8-2 in the seventh.

Kurfees said: “We get down early and we’re having to chase a rabbit all night long.”

Kannapolis starter Jacob Baucom cruised for five innings, allowing three hits and two unearned runs. Six of Mocksville’s nine hits came in the last two innings against relievers. In the seventh, it scored three and brought the tying run to the plate, but it was too little, too late.

Kurfees: “We hit the ball good once (Baucom) left the game.”

Both teams had nine hits. Patrick Usher (2-4, double), Claus (2-4, double) and Highman (2-2, two walks) led the way for the hosts.

Claus is raking at a .358 clip. Usher (.316) has a six-game hitting streak and leads the team in doubles (seven).

Joey Szvetitz staged an incredible start, but he’s cooled off, his second straight hitless game dropping his average to .470.