Rowan wins replay
By Mike London
Rowan County won Game 4 ó for a second time ó at full, frenzied and frustrated Newman Park.Rowan beat Burlington-Graham on Wednesday, but one more ruling by Legion officials erased that result from the books yesterday afternoon.
Rowan banged out 19 hits in the not-so-instant replay, got four RBIs from Noah Holmes and stayed alive in the series by taking a 12-11 thriller on Friday night. Burlington leads the series 3-2, with Game 6 set for Newman Park tonight.To make a long story short, Rowan (28-11) and Burlington (27-7) played a half-inning Tuesday before encountering weather issues.
The game was resumed Wednesday at 0-0 in the bottom of the first, and Rowan went on to win 11-2. State commissioner Roy Waters ruled the original result invalid because of a misapplication of the halted-game rule.
The game should have been started from scratch instead of resuming in the bottom of the first.
“Throw out a ballgame because of three outs?” wincing Rowan coach Jim Gantt said. “There’s not a lot of common sense involved in that. But sometimes people like for you to know they’re still in power.”
Rowan players learned they were down 3-1 in the series despite having won twice when they arrived for batting practice at 4 p.m. yesterday.
“It was a shock, and we didn’t know how to react,” Trey Holmes said. “I guess it helped us some because it got us fired up. We were ready to play baseball and came out swinging.”
Rowan’s failure to corral a popup got starting pitcher Zack Simpson in trouble right away, and Burlington scored three first-inning runs.
Noah Holmes’ two-out, two-run double in the bottom of the first announced it was going to be a slugfest.
“No one I’ve played with in Legion has ever hit the ball the way Noah is right now,” Trey Holmes said with a grin. “But he’s my little brother, so I’m not sure if that’s good or bad.”
Trey has got to be hearing it from Noah around the house, but they were co-stars this time. Trey’s homer leading off the third triggered a five-run explosion that included a two-run single by Billy Veal, and Rowan led 7-3.
“That’s my third homer, and Noah’s got two, so at least I’ve got him there,” Trey said.
Rowan’s lead peaked at 11-3 in the fifth after Justin Roland’s RBI single and Noah Holmes’ two-out, two-run single, but Northern Division champion Burlington isn’t the sort of team that’s going to lose by the 10-run rule.
“We came out swinging, but they matched us,” Burlington coach Johnny Slaughter said. “It’s been an interesting series, and I guess we got ourselves a bonus game tonight. We hadn’t heard a thing about this ruling until we got down here.”
Four Burlington double plays, one of them on a diving stab by third baseman Michael Nunn, kept Rowan from running away, and Burlington jumped back into it when Seth Caison hit a grand slam off Simpson in the sixth.
“I felt fine, not tired at all,” Simpson said. “That team just hits it good.”
Veal’s homer made it 12-7, but Colt Johnson’s three-run homer off Parker Gobbel in the seventh sliced Rowan’s lead to 12-10 and made things tense the rest of the way.
Adam Norris’ homer leading off the eighth for Burlington made it a one-run game. Trey Holmes relieved and allowed a booming, two-out triple by Cale Rogers, but catcher Austin Shull blocked two curveballs in the dirt with Dodson McPherson at the plate, and Holmes finally struck out McPherson looking at a 3-2 curveball.
“Shull’s plays ó blocking those two balls in the dirt ó were as big as anything all night,” Gantt said. “He gave Trey the confidence to throw another curveball on 3-2, and he made a pitch.”
Roland, who had three hits, moved to the mound from shortstop for the ninth and racked up three quick, routine outs for his fourth save.
Gantt will send lefty Russ Michalec to the mound tonight. Slaughter said he’d make a decision today.
nNOTES: Shull had three singles, in addition to his defensive heroics, and Matt Hall had two hits as the DH. … Veal lost a grand slam when the original Game 4 was wiped off the books, and Hall lost a sparkling, complete-game pitching performance. … Noah Holmes has a team-high 41 RBIs.