Legion Baseball: Rowan 16, Lexington 10
By David Shaw
LEXINGTON ó Rowan County stunk up the joint Tuesday night ó and still emerged smelling like a tray of cinnamon rolls.
Its 16-10 win at Lexington was a mistake-filled misadventure played at a casual, Sunday-morning-in-your-pajamas pace. But by night’s end Rowan had picked up a game on each of the two teams it is chasing in the Southern Division standings.
“That part was good,” coach Jim Gantt deadpanned at Holt-Moffitt Field, where Rowan (16-6, 8-5) scored seven runs in the last two innings and snapped its two-game losing streak. “But it’s tough when you win and you feel like you’ve been physically beaten up. We did some of the dumbest things you can do out there ó and some of the best things you can do.”
The best things came from relief pitchers Tanner Brown and Justin Roland, who combined to hold Lexington (15-4, 11-2) scoreless down the stretch. And from third baseman Noah Holmes, who atoned for a couple of off-target throws with a two-run single in the eighth inning and an RBI hit in the ninth.
There was reason for concern. Now in the final third of its regular season, Rowan played defense like it was killing time between at-bats, committing four errors that led to three unearned runs. Its pitching staff continued its schizophrenic pattern ó dominating one night and struggling another.”I’m not sure what’s going on,” said Brown, who cleaned up a seventh-inning mess and picked up the win.
“I was nervous for sure when I came in. Down by a run, I just wanted to shut them down and give my team a chance.”
Brown, who didn’t expect to play, retired three straight Lexington batters in the seventh, then escaped unharmed in the eighth after yielding Luke Wilhelm’s ground-rule triple to right-center. Roland turned off the spigot by striking out the side in order in the last of the ninth.
“It was good to see Roland back out there,” Gantt said. “And Tanner was real effective. It was supposed to be a bullpen-in-the-game session for him, but it worked out all right for him.”
Rowan watched leads of 6-2 and 9-6 evaporate before rallying in the final two innings. Trey Holmes delivered the tying run with a ground-ball single to left field in the eighth. Younger brother Noah Holmes put Rowan ahead 12-10 when he pushed a grounder through Post 8’s drawn-in infield and into right field.
“With two strikes, I just had to bear down and get it,” he said after going 3-for-5 and lifting his average to .477.
Rowan extended its gait in the ninth with four insurance runs. One scored on an error, another on Noah Holmes’ soft liner to left and the last two on a pinch-hit single by Justin Mock.
“It wasn’t a very well-played game by either side,” Lexington coach Matt Griffin said after his team committed five errors, issued 10 walks and threw 10 wild pitches. “We kind of set the tone on the mound. You can’t play like that and expect to beat anybody.”
NOTES: Rowan will complete a suspended game with Statesville at Newman Park tonight. … D.C. Cranford, Trey Holmes and Roland each scored three times for Rowan.
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