Game 2: East Rowan 6, Rocky Mount 2
By Nick Bowton
ZEBULON ó East Rowan had the same type of start Saturday afternoon that it had Friday night against Rocky Mount.
The Mustangs had a different type of finish, winning 6-2 to force a decisive Game 3 in the 3A state championship series at Five County Stadium.
After seeing a 2-0, first-inning lead slip away in a 7-4 loss Friday night, East jumped to a 3-0 lead after one inning and never trailed Saturday. Senior Micah Jarrett went 3-for-4 with a double, a triple and two runs, and fellow senior Trey Holmes went 2-for-3 with two RBIs. Justin Roland, another of East’s five seniors, pitched a complete game to improve to 6-0.
“We made a little bit better adjustments,” East coach Brian Hightower said. “We still lulled to sleep in those middle innings, which was disappointing. Then they scored a run and we came back and scored a run, which was nice to see.
“You gotta compete. If they put something up, you gotta put something up.”
That strategy worked well for East in the fifth inning, when it finally added to the three runs it scored in the first.
Roland led off the first inning with a double and reached third on an error, and both he and Zach Smith scored when Jarrett doubled and left fielder William Barringer committed an error. Jarrett scored on a sacrifice fly by Holmes, but Rocky Mount pitcher Chris Berry shut East down over the next three innings.
The Gryphons got their first run in the bottom of the fourth, but East responded with back-to-back, two-out triples by Jarrett and Holmes in the top of the fifth.
“We had talked about getting runs early,” Jarrett said. “We had scored early yesterday, too, but we had kind of run dry after that. We came up big in the fifth inning, my triple and then Trey’s. That was a big momentum killer for them. They were shutting us down; we were having a hard time getting on base.
“It was a real dogfight at that point. Trey came up huge with that triple. It kind of got us rolling.”
After East pushed its lead to 4-1, the Gryphons capitalized on some miscommunication in the East Rowan outfield to get within 4-2. But East again responded, getting two unearned runs in the sixth.
Roland struck out two batters in the bottom of the seventh to secure the victory and ensure East a chance to play one more game for the state title. The Mustangs won their state semifinal series against South Point after losing Game 1.
“That’s what we talked about last night after the game,” Jarrett said. “Coming into today, today’s pep talk and everything, we just talked about how last series we dropped that first game, and when it’s elimination time, we had to come back and get it done. We had to leave nothing behind.
“That helped, knowing that we could do it again. We had already done it once.”
Contact Nick Bowton at 704-797-4256 or email@example.com.
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