Legion Baseball: Rowan 23, Mooresville 4
By Mike London
Young left-hander Zack Simpson watched from the safety of the dugout as Mooresville clubbed 10 extra-base hits and put up 18 runs against five Rowan hurlers on Sunday.
Simpson lost a little sleep, but he allowed one run in five innings as Rowan County battered the emotionally drained Moors 23-4 at Newman Park on Monday to take a 2-0 lead in the second-round series.
“Watching them hit in that first game, sure it worried me a little bit,” Simpson said. “I spent all last night wondering what was gonna happen.”
Rowan’s offense and Mooresville’s defense combined to end the suspense early in Game 2. Rowan (25-8) didn’t hit any balls over the walls, but it rapped 16 singles and three doubles and took advantage of Mooresville mistakes.
Two dropped flyballs permitted Rowan to score nine runs ó all unearned ó in the second inning, and coach Jim Gantt’s crew didn’t look back.
The second-seeded Moors (19-10) have a powerful lineup, but they were the Bad News Bears in the field.
And that’s the Bears before Kelly Leak and Amanda Whurlitzer signed up.
The Moors accumulated 13 errors. One was on a catcher’s interference call, but most were on routine plays after starter Aaron Meadows or reliever Jordan Farrell made a decent pitch and should have been rewarded with an out.
“It just seems like we’re snakebit on this field and can’t catch the ball,” Mooresville coach Josh Graham said. “I sure can’t explain it. Still, as bad as we fielded it, Rowan hit the heck out of the ball. How Mocksville held them down for a whole series, I have no idea.”
Rowan managed to sweep Mocksville 6-3, 1-0 and 5-2, but its series with the Moors has produced touchdown, field goals and safeties. Rowan won 21-18 in 11 innings on Sunday.
Third-seeded Rowan has a chance to end the series tonight at Mooresville where it hasn’t lost a playoff game since 1994. Rowan has won 24 of its last 26 playoff games against the Moors.
A pregame accident on Sunday affected the series. Mooresville lost lefty Nick Lomascolo, who has an 0.51 ERA and was scheduled to start on the mound last night. Appalachian State and North Carolina had planned to watch the southpaw pitch against Rowan.
Lomascolo has a fractured skull after being struck by a wayward ball, but he is making a remarkable recovery. He was released from a hospital Monday and arrived at Newman Park in the first inning ó in uniform. He plans to do pushups today and hopes to be cleared to resume normal activities in a matter of weeks.
Lomascolo’s health was the lone positive for Mooresville, as Rowan followed its nine-run second by batting around again in a seven-run third for a 16-0 lead that gave Simpson plenty of breathing room.
“Coach (Zach) Snyder told me to keep making good pitches,” said Simpson, who turned over mound duties to Parker Gobbel in the sixth. “He told me to pitch like it was a one-run game.”
Noah Holmes had five more RBIs and has 10 in two nights. Justin Mock knocked in four runs, while Zach Smith, who made a sliding catch and threw out a runner at home, drove in three. Trey Holmes scored four times, and every starter crossed the plate at least once.
Justin Roland has batted 13 times in two nights, and when that happens Rowan is going to do OK. He was 3-for-6.
Roland now ranks first all-time at Rowan in doubles (48) and is third in runs (186), fourth in steals (73) and fifth in hits (198). The most remarkable stat for Roland is that he’s 11th all-time in RBIs (105), while batting ninth one year and leadoff for three years.
“Getting the doubles record is nice because Cal Hayes had that and he was my idol growing up,” Roland said. “Everything is going our way right now. Forty-four runs in two days. That’s a lot of fun for everybody”
Well, almost everybody.
Eric Manser homered for the Moors, but the only other serious roar from the left-field bleachers came when the half-and-half winner stood up to claim a season-record pot of $384.