Prep Baseball: Brothers boost East’s hopes
By Bret Strelow
GRANITE QUARRY ó Trey Holmes and Noah Holmes spent time in the same defensive backfield, and now they’re manning the corners for East Rowan’s baseball team.
East will meet Rocky Mount in the 3A state championship series, which begins Friday at Five County Stadium in Zebulon. The Holmes brothers, who intercepted one pass apiece during a football victory against South Rowan in October, have excelled as starting infielders this spring.
Trey, a senior, is East’s first baseman. Noah, a sophomore, plays third base.
“Like all brothers, we’ve had some fights, but now he’s even more of a friend and brother,” Trey said.
“He’s awesome, playing great and doing more than everybody expected him to do. He’s made plays you don’t see made by high schoolers, and he’s only a sophomore.”
Both players bat left-handed, and Noah throws right-handed. Trey has shown off a powerful left arm as a pitcher and squeezed bouncing balls into the oversized mitt covering his right hand throughout a three-year varsity career.
Trey is known as a stellar defender, and he ranks second on the team with a .398 batting average this season. He hit .286 last year, and many Mustangs have seen their numbers improve following the school’s drop from 4A to 3A.
Noah, who played on East’s jayvee team as a freshman, is hitting .305 this season.
“If I get down, he’ll pick me up and make sure I don’t lose my head,” Noah said. “He keeps everybody picked up and is a good leader.”
The 2007 football season was the first time Trey and Noah had played on the same organized squad since they were Centralina Orthopaedic White Sox teammates six years ago in the East Rowan Little League.
A connection remained after they were separated. Noah had an arm injury as an 11-year-old yet managed to contribute as an outfielder and first baseman while wearing one of Trey’s old gloves on his right hand.
Noah made surprisingly strong and accurate throws with his left arm.
“Trey always thought it was because of his glove, not what Noah did,” the brothers’ father, Jimmy, said with a laugh.
Trey, who pitched East to a win in the championship game of the Peeler Classic as a sophomore, suffered a left elbow injury on a slide last spring and is 6-0 in his prep career. He has thrown only 201/3 innings this season.
Corbin Shive, Justin Roland and Cody Laws have handled the majority of mound duties and allowed 28 runs in 1571/3 innings. South Point had a runner on third base with no outs against Shive in the fourth inning of the Western championship series opener, and that game stayed scoreless until the eighth.
With a Holmes playing shallow at each corner as South Point tried to break through in the fourth, Noah made a diving stop on a ball hit between third and short. He fired home to catcher Austin Shull, who tagged Ryan Huneycutt for the first out.
“As far as Trey taking Noah under his wing, Noah’s a dadgum good ballplayer and Trey knows what he can do,” East coach Brian Hightower said. “They’re both million-dollar kids.
“It’d be one thing if they hated each other’s guts, but Trey and Noah both get along great. I contribute that to their parents.”
Jimmy and his wife, Leslie, have three sons, and Roby is currently an eighth-grader at Erwin Middle School. Trey has accepted a scholarship offer from Pitt Community College, and he is scheduled to graduate from East about 10 weeks before Roby arrives there.
East’s extended run through the 3A playoffs has given Jimmy and Leslie extra opportunities to watch two of their children compete on the same field at the same time.
“We’ve literally been on opposite ends of the Southeast the last few years with Legion, Junior Legion, Erwin and East,” Jimmy said. “We’ve been split where my wife will be with one and I’d go with another. It’s been a nice, refreshing change.”
Contact Bret Strelow at 704-797-4258 or firstname.lastname@example.org.