Prep Baseball: East Rowan 14, West Rowan 5
By Mike London
MOUNT ULLA ó It was the tightest 14-5 game in baseball history.East Rowan beat West Rowan for its 15th straight victory on Friday, but some fingernails were gnawed off prior to the Mustangs’ seven-run explosion in the seventh.
West scratched, clawed, led three different times and chased a huge upset until the sixth when East second baseman Ethan Fisher changed everything with a three-run homer.
Fisher’s drive to right was one of five homers East (19-2, 15-0) launched. The Mustangs entered with 17 on the season.
“West was playing great defense, but I kept telling (assistant) Brian Hatley that if we kept hitting the ball hard sooner or later some were going to drop in,” East coach Brian Hightower said. “I didn’t know they were going to have to drop in over the fence.”
Reliever Cody Laws (8-0) won it. He’s been a good-luck charm all season. West’s Jake Koontz (2-5) threw the pivotal pitch. He’s been a hard-luck guy all year.
D.J. Webb started on the mound for West (11-10, 6-9) and silenced East for two innings as his team went up 1-0.
“Lots of off-speed stuff, breaking balls and changeups, Webb said. “We were playing great defense. We played really good until the sixth.”
East’s Justin Roland drove one over the Blue Monster in left in the third for a 1-1 tie, and starting pitcher Trey Holmes, who had four hits and four RBIs, sent a liner whizzing past the right-field scoreboard to make it back-to-back blasts.
Zach Smith added another solo homer for a 3-1 lead, but West knocked out Holmes and took a 4-3 lead in the fourth. The key blow was Tyler King’s two-run single. It could have been a huge inning, but East turned a big-league double play with speedy Philip Miclat running. Third baseman Noah Holmes made a tough pickup and accurate throw, and the ball was in Fisher’s glove only an instant before his relay was zipping to first.
“That’s what makes this a special team,” Hightower said. “Our bottom of the lineup guys like Fisher, I’d match them up with anybody’s for offense, for defense and for speed.”
Both teams scored once in the fifth, and West led 5-4 heading to the sixth.
Corbin Shive opened the frame with a walk, even though ball four didn’t appear to be high, low, inside or outside. Wright kicked a helmet in disbelief.
One strikeout and one walk later, Wright lifted Webb, who had a 1-1 count on Fisher, and brought in Koontz.
Wright liked the odds of the matchup producing a double-play grounder. Hightower liked the chances of Fisher hitting the first fastball hard. No one was looking for a three-run homer, but Fisher, who has answered to “Skip” since elementary school, ripped his second longball of the season on Koontz’s first offering.
“They’d thrown me away all night, but on that one, I just happened to catch my pitch,” Fisher said. “I guess it would be nice if we hit five homers every game. That would make it a lot easier.”
Fisher’s homer was a backbreaker.
East piled on with a seven-run seventh that included a three-run homer by relief pitcher Kent Basinger, who rarely gets to swing a bat.
“It’s been a while, so I was just trying to put it in play anywhere,” Basinger said.
He put it out of play over the left-field fence, but East did that often last night.
“Great team and to beat ’em we just about had to be spotless,” Wright said. “We were right there in it until it snowballed. We never conceded a thing.”
Contact Mike London at 704-797-4259 or firstname.lastname@example.org.