Legion Baseball: Rowan 10, Burlington 7, 12 innings

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 21, 2008

By Mike London
Micah Jarrett’s three-run walkoff homer in the 12th inning was high and far and huge.
Rowan nearly let another lead slip away against Burlington-Graham in Game 2 of a best-of-seven, third-round series, and this one would have proved fatal.
Instead the series is tied 1-1 and heads back to Tom Zachary Field in Graham tonight for Game 3.
“We did a lot of dumb stuff,” Rowan coach Jim Gantt said. “But things worked out for us, I was proud of how we hung in there, and we got a little lucky. We beat a great team.”
Rowan led 4-0, went down 7-4, tied it 7-7 in the eighth, and finally won 10-7 when Jarrett crushed a pitch from Burlington all-star Zach Robinson over the high wall in left-center and in the general direction of Jupiter.
“We’d lost a lead again and got behind again,” said Jarrett, who has signed with Wake Forest. “But this time we made our own comeback. We learned from the first game.”
Philip Miclat’s one-out line single to right started the winning rally. A walk to Trey Holmes brought Jarrett to the plate. When a passed ball moved the runners to second and third, first base was open.
Jarrett already had three hits in the game and had belted a homer Saturday. plus two more bombs in the last game of the Mooresville series.
He probably would have been intentionally walked after first base opened up, except Robinson, a southpaw, was ahead in the count 1-2, and Justin Mock, a right-handed pinch hitter who is hitting over .400, was looking eager in on-deck circle.
“Robinson has a weird arm angle, and his ball was really jumping on us,” Jarrett said. “With runners at second and third and the infield in, my job in that situation is just to get something to the outfield, but he gave me a pitch up in the zone and middle in. It was just a great pitch to hit.”
Evidently. People were filing out of the bleachers before the ball even landed.
“Zach (Smith) called the homer,” Jarrett said. “And I’d just told Trey (Holmes) I was tired, and I was ready to go home.”
Rowan (27-9) appeared on the verge of defeat in the top of the 12th, when Burlington (25-6) filled the bases with one out on an error, sacrifice, intentional walk and a hit batsman. But Billy Veal, the seventh Rowan pitcher, worked out of the jam with a strikeout and a routine flyball to Jarrett in center.
Burlington had a shaky first inning, and Noah Holmes’ RBI double keyed a three-run frame for Rowan.
Justin Roland’s sac fly in the fourth made it 4-0, and Rowan lefty Zack Simpson took a sharp, one-out shutout into the fifth. That’s when Burlington got solo homers from Seth Caison and Adam Norris to turn momentum.
Burlington led 7-4 heading to the Rowan seventh, but clutch hits by Smith and Austin Shull knocked in runs to make it 7-6.
Rowan then got nice bullpen work from Parker Gobbel in the eighth, and tied the game in the bottom half of the inning on singles by Trey Holmes and Jarrett, Noah’s Holmes’ sacrifice bunt and Smith’s sac fly.
It stayed 7-7 forever, with Burlington’s Jeremy Stalker and Robinson matching zeroes with Rowan relievers Trey Holmes, who worked the ninth, and Roland, who handled Burlington in the 10th and 11th.
Shull nearly won it for Rowan in the 11th, but Caison caught his sinking liner in left that would have scored Smith.
Burlington got exceptional defense from Caison, shortstop Matt Parker, second baseman Norris and right fielder Dodson McPherson. All made terrific plays that led to Rowan leaving the bases loaded twice and stranding 12 runners.
Rowan’s bench was getting very thin late, and Jarrett’s rocket, his 15th hit in his last 26 at-bats, couldn’t have been any more timely.
“It was a tough game, and we really needed it,” said Roland, who was in left field in the 12th. “For a while, it looked like it might be just like Game 1, but we were fired up. Now we’ve got to stay fired up for the next one.”
Lefty Russell Michalec will pitch for Rowan.