Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 14, 2007

By David Shaw
Salisbury Post
Rowan County wasted little time showing Surry County who was boss Thursday night.
The locals achieved instant liftoff at Newman Park, crunching five extra-base hits in the first inning and paving the way for an eight-inning, 11-1 non-league victory.
“The guys came out and swung the bats well early,” Rowan coach Jim Gantt said. “We got two triples in the first inning. That doesn’t happen very often in this park.”
Even with a mix-and-match lineup, Rowan (12-1) quickly turned the little park into Hitsville, U.S.A. It scored five runs against losing pitcher Thomas Newsome in the first inning ó when Jason Ridenhour and Trey Holmes lined triples and three teammates collected doubles.
“We really came out hitting the ball hard,” catcher Jacob Dobbins said after his run-scoring single with one out in the eighth ended the game. “We were swinging at good pitches and being very selective. It’s great when you jump on someone quick like that.”
Rowan finished with 13 hits ó including 10 for extra bases. The beneficiary was winning pitcher Tanner Brown, who was more sturdy than spectacular in his second start. The right-hander used an electric fastball and a sharp curve to strike out seven batters in six innings. He allowed the only run in the first inning, when he threw 26 pitches, walked two and yielded the first of nine Surry singles.
“I was a little wild in the first inning,” Brown said. “After that I settled down. It really helped when we came back and got five runs right away. That took the pressure off.”
Losing coach Barry Hall found plenty of positives after Surry fell to 0-7, but he also tossed a verbal bouquet at Brown.
“He did what a good pitcher needs to do ó change planes,” Hall said. “He never showed us the same pitch on the same plane.”
Gantt agreed. He said Brown (1-0, 2.45 ERA) repeatedly forced Surry hitters to alter their eye level, but he did it backwards.
“He’d throw the curveball down and get them to chase the high fastball,” Gantt explained. “That seemed to be something they liked to chase ó fastballs up in the strike zone late in the count. He’d throw them out of the strike zone, and they helped him out. He was just wild enough to be effective.”
Rowan, which had seven extra-base hits in the first two innings, extended its lead to 6-1 when Ridenhour laced a second-inning double down the left-field line and scored on a Weston Church double to left-center.
“I think we all came out ready to hit,” said Ridenhour, who went 2-for-5 and raised his average over the .300 mark.
RC added two runs in the fifth ó both after Newsome retired the first two batters ó then sent the chilly crowd home early with three in the eighth. Two scored on Ross Steedley’s double down the right-field line and the last when Dobbins punched a hit through a drawn-in infield.
NOTES: Infielders Justin Roland, Micah Jarrett and Corbin Shive are in Raleigh participating in the State Games. … Rowan returns to league play Saturday night when Mooresville visits. Keegan Linza (2-0, 3.18), who pitched a perfect eighth inning, gets the start.