Legion State Tournament: Holmes brothers enjoy homer binge
By Bret Strelow
The Legion notebook …
GASTONIA ó The uncomfortable conditions kept the conversation in a heated sibling rivalry to a minimum.
Trey Holmes hit a solo home run in the third inning of Rowan County’s 9-1 victory against Wayne County on the opening day of the double-elimination American Legion state tournament.
Not to be outdone, younger brother Noah Holmes launched a three-run shot in the seventh inning. He hadn’t homered since June 28.
“Gotta get back at him,” Noah said with a laugh. “He said he’s still got me beat.”
Noah is batting .406, a mark that ranks first among Rowan’s full-time starters. Trey is at .348 with 56 hits, two fewer than Noah.
Power numbers provide Trey with bragging rights. He improved his home-run total for the season to five, and Noah now has three.
Trey often points out the discrepancy, but he showed restraint Tuesday.
“Not today,” Trey said. “It was too hot to joke around today.”
Trey and Noah had one interception apiece for East Rowan’s varsity football team 10 months ago in a victory against South Rowan. They joined the baseball team in the spring, reuniting on a diamond for the first time in six years.
East reached the 3A state championship series, but the brothers didn’t homer in the same game as prep teammates. They finally accomplished the feat in an unlikely setting.
Sims Legion Park doesn’t have daunting dimensions, but Rowan’s power display surprised coach Jim Gantt.
“The field plays big a lot of times, and we kind of liked that going into it,” Gantt said. “It plays really big even though it’s only 380 (feet) to center.”
SWEET REDEMPTION: Rowan also opened the 2007 state tournament with an impressive victory, but it wasted a big lead in a loss to Cherryville before falling 19-1 to Wayne County.
Rowan was on the other end of a lopsided affair this time.
“We kind of thought about it because 19-1 is kind of hard to forget,” Trey Holmes said. “We played like we had something to prove, and we competed real good.
“We have to come out just as strong tomorrow.”
Rowan’s decisive win against defending champion Morehead City last year set up the showdown with Cherryville, which overcame a 6-1 deficit in an 8-7 victory.
Tuesday’s result against Wayne pushed Rowan (33-14) into tonight’s 7:30 p.m. game against Hope Mills (20-8). Methodist left-hander Tre Britt (10-0) is Hope Mills’ ace, and he didn’t pitch in his team’s 7-2 win against host Gastonia.
Zack Simpson (3-0) is expected to start on the mound tonight for Rowan.
“It feels good to get that first win under your belt and get the jitters out,” said Justin Roland, who tied Austin Shull for the team lead with four hits against Wayne. “We did it last year, and we can’t take anybody lightly because it will be a good team again.”
ROUNDUP: Hope Mills used a three-run fourth to erase a 2-1 deficit against Gastonia (8-19). … Randolph, which beat Rowan in the Area III title series, faced Clayton in the tournament opener and won 7-3. Steven Davis had a two-run double in the third inning, and Ethan Marsh followed with a two-run homer that gave Randolph a 4-0 lead. Clayton (19-12) pulled within 4-3 in the top of the fifth, but Randolph (36-11) added single runs in the fifth, seventh and eighth innings. Davis and Marsh had three RBIs apiece. … The second session began with Cherryville’s 12-1, seven-inning victory against Wilmington (18-13). Nate Wright capped a nine-run sixth with a three-run homer for Cherryville (40-6).