Legion Baseball: Rowan 21, Mooresville 18
By Mike London
MOORESVILLE ó Rowan County coach Jim Gantt said it was “one of the craziest things” he’d ever been a part of, and that was understating things a bit.
Rowan County survived five home runs and beat Mooresville 21-18 in 11 innings on a wild Sunday night that will be talked about for decades.
Third-seeded Rowan (24-8) appeared to have the opening game of the second-round series wrapped up on four or five different occasions, but the second-seeded Moors, trying desperately to end a 14-year playoff drought against Rowan on their home field, wouldn’t go away.
Mooresville’s comeback from a nine-run deficit was capped by Dylan West’s dramatic three-homer with two out in the ninth that forced extra innings. But Rowan weathered that blow, held on through a scoreless 10th and won the game with three runs in the 11th.
Rowan batted around in a five-run second. Mooresville batted around in its six-run sixth. Rowan scored at least one run in each of the first eight frames.
“It was the most runs I’ve ever seen scored in a game I’ve played in and more runs than I’ve ever seen in a game I’ve just watched,” Rowan center fielder Micah Jarrett said. “We jumped on ’em early and we were playing some solid defense, but then they started swinging the bats. I thought we showed a lot of character to still come away with a win.”
Rowan piled up ridiculous offensive numbers. Jarrett belted four doubles. Austin Shull walked five times and scored five runs. Winning pitcher Justin Roland had five hits and scored five runs. Noah Holmes had five RBIs, including a two-run single in the 11th that finally decided a marathon that stretched for 4 hours, 6 minutes.
Mooresville (19-9) dug a huge hole right away, and with a good reason.
Left-hander Nick Lomascolo, who would have been the starting pitcher for the Moors tonight at Newman Park, was struck by a thrown ball in pregame warmups and rushed to a local hospital before being transferred to CMC where a neurosurgeon was on duty.
Reports issued by Mooresville officials indicated the talented southpaw has a fractured skull but was not in a life-threatening situation.
“We’ve had an awful lot of distractions the last few days, and then Lomo gets hurt like that in pregame,” Mooresville coach Josh Graham said.
Mooresville started the game shellshocked and was down 9-0 after 2 1/2 innings before it started to fight back.
Rowan ace Tanner Brown was knocked out in the fourth.
Mooresville lefty Aubrey Meadows, who had struck out 14 Kannapolis hitters in his previous trip to the mound, also didn’t make it through the fourth.
“Aubrey didn’t have his good stuff,” Graham said. “And we sort of knew it even before the game started.”
Jarrett’s two-run double in the third, Roland’s two-run single in the fourth and Roland’s three-run homer in the sixth gave Rowan a seemingly insurmountable 15-7 lead going to the bottom of the sixth, but Garrett Braun’s grand slam off Matt Hall lifted the Moors right back into it.
“There was a lot we could have done that woulda prevented them from coming back, but we didn’t do it,” Gantt said. “We kept hitting batters (five HBPs) and walking them.”
Philip Miclat’s two-run double in the eighth gave Rowan an 18-14 edge, but the Moors picked up a run in the eighth on Aaron Meadows’ homer. Then West drilled a tying homer to right-center in the ninth when Roland, Rowan’s fifth hurler of the night, was one out away from saving a win for Billy Veal.
“The thing about Roland is it would’ve been real easy for him to fold up shop after the three-run homer and say it’s over,” Gantt said. “He didn’t.”
Rowan failed to score in the 10th, but Roland shut down the Moors in the bottom half of the inning.
Rowan mounted its winning rally in the 11th against Braun.
Miclat beat out a ball he hit into the hole, and Trey Holmes and Jarrett walked to load the bases.
Noah Holmes then lashed a liner up the middle to score two runs.
“I thought for a second the pitcher was going to catch it,” Holmes said. “It was a relief when it got by him. I was really tired, but it felt good to put us back on top.”
Ethan Fisher’s sacrifice fly produced an insurance run, and Roland worked a quick bottom of the 11th. The Moors went down 1-2-3 for the first time since the first inning.
“Rowan’s too good a team to spot nine runs,” Graham said. “But we did come back. We showed some real heart.”
NOTES: Sam Allen and Brantley Horton also powered homers for the hard-hitting Moors. … With Lomascolo injured and No. 3 hurler Scottie Williams, who pitched the last game of the Kannapolis series not available, Graham said his pitching choice for tonight at Newman Park will be “staff.” Rowan will likely go with lefty Zack Simpson, but both teams had to burn up bullpens in last night’s marathon. … “I know who our starter will be, but after that, who knows,” Gantt said.
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