Legion Baseball: Basinger sparks Rowan
By Nick Bowton
Rowan County saw plenty of odd plays in a 6-5 victory against Eastern Randolph on Monday.
Rowan shortstop Justin Roland hit a ball that bounced off the top of the wall in left-center field and caromed over it for a home run. Eastern Randolph pitcher D.J. Dean left the field on a stretcher after being hit in the head by a throw to second from his catcher.
And Kent Basinger hit a home run.
Known more for his pitching than his hitting, Basinger entered the game with the score tied at 5-all in the eighth. He retired six of the seven batters he faced over the next two innings and also provided the decisive run with a solo shot to left field to lead off the bottom of the eighth.
Rowan coach Jim Gantt put it simply: “Kent Basinger is the story of the game.”
One of them, at least.
On a night overshadowed by a 25-minute delay when Dean went down with blood oozing from his cap in the sixth inning, Basinger provided a positive finish for the hosts at Newman Park.
“He just took one warmup swing, steps in there, first pitch he hits it in the trees,” said Roland, who played with Basinger at East Rowan and went 3-for-4 with a double and a home run last night. “Plus, it’s Kent. It’s just funny.
“He’s so easy-going. He steps in there, doesn’t care if he gets an out or a home run. He has the same expression.”
Basinger’s first home run of the season, in his first at-bat, provided the final run in a game that was close throughout.
Trey Holmes gave Rowan (9-3) a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first with an RBI double off the wall in right-center, and Roland doubled the lead in the third when his shot to left field landed just above the “Chamberlain Exterminators” sign and skipped over the wall.
“It don’t matter if it hits the wall or goes out by 100 feet,” Roland said. “It’s still a home run. I thought it was gonna be out by a good bit. Then I wasn’t sure, so I started sprinting. I didn’t see it hit the wall.
“Then people told me, and I thought they were kidding.”
Rowan increased its lead to 4-1 going into the sixth, but Eastern Randolph countered with three runs in the top of the inning, tying the score at 4-all on Lloyd Newman’s RBI groundout.
Rowan led off the bottom of the inning with a hit batsman before Dean replaced starter Clay Martin. Pinch runner D.C. Cranford took off for second base on Dean’s second pitch, and catcher Derek Brown unleashed a throw to catch Cranford stealing.
The throw went low and tagged a ducking Dean in the back of the head.
Gantt said blood was immediately visible through Dean’s cap, and firefighters tended to Dean, who’s had two concussions, until emergency medical technicians arrived and got him on a stretcher.
Eastern Randolph coach Morgan Frazier kept his players from Dean because he said the scene “can shell-shock kids.” He did, however, say Dean was still keeping his usual sense of humor despite the pain. Dean repeatedly told Frazier, “Man, it hurts,” but Frazier said he had gotten word by the end of the game that Dean would be OK.
When play resumed, Rowan produced a run-scoring single for a 5-4 lead that was erased when Brown doubled home a run in the seventh. Basinger’s eighth-inning home run sent Eastern Randolph home with a loss, but Frazier had kind words for the hosts.
“They did a great job here at Rowan with the medical staff,” said Frazier, whose players told him they wanted to continue playing after the incident because Dean would want them to. “Honestly, if that happens at our place, I’m not sure what happens.”
Contact Nick Bowton at 704-797-4256 or firstname.lastname@example.org.