Prep baseball: East Rowan 9, NW Cabarrus 4
By Mike London
KANNAPOLIS ó East Rowan third baseman Noah Holmes entered Tuesday’s NPC game batting a very un-Holmes-like .214.
He exited batting a that’s-more-like-it .333. Holmes went 3-for-4 ó doubling his season hit total in one afternoon. His hits included a game-breaking, three-run homer in a 9-4 win at Northwest Cabarrus.”I’ve not been swinging too good,” said Holmes, who started his surge with a bloop that fell just out of the shortstop’s reach. “But the first time up today I finally got a hit. It wasn’t the best hit, but it was the confidence-booster I needed.”
David Ijames also slugged the ball for the Mustangs, driving a double and triple to the right-center gap to knock in three runs. Corbin Shive homered and knocked in three runs.
Kent Basinger, the beneficiary of nine RBIs from East’s 3-4-5 hitters, improved to 2-0 with five solid innings.
Playing for the first time since its non-league loss to North Davidson, East (7-1, 5-0) came out growling and scored three in the first. Ijames’ two-run double keyed the inning.
“It was big to get three right off,” coach Brian Hightower said. “That relaxed us and let us play defense the way we can. When this team plays the great defense it’s capable of, I think I could drag myself out there and pitch.”
Northwest lefty Rob Bain settled in after the first inning, and the Trojans (2-5, 1-3) picked up a run in the fourth on Matt Greene’s two-out RBI single.
It was a 3-1 game, and the Trojans had momentum until an error and a hit batsman put two men on base in front of Holmes in the fifth. The lefty swinger launched a 1-1 pitch toward the scoreboard behind the right-field fence.
“It was a good pitcher we were facing, but I knew I had to get those runs in,” Holmes said. “He just misplaced a pitch belt-high, and I hit it.”
One swing and it was 6-1.
“There was no bigger at-bat in the ballgame,” Hightower said. “It’s huge that Noah broke out of it today. We really need him.”
Shive’s solo homer in the fifth made it 7-1.
Ijames tripled in Holmes, then dashed home on Shive’s groundball to the second baseman to make it 9-1.
“East doesn’t make mistakes,” Northwest coach Joe Hubbard said. “I don’t think they’ve made an error against us the last three times we’ve played them, so you’re not gonna beat ’em giving up nine runs. They’re not gonna help you out any.”
Still, it got interesting at the end.
Northwest ó playing without shortstop and No. 3 hitter Justin Seager, who will be sidelined six weeks by an injury to vertebrae in his back ó kept scrapping against East reliever Parker Gobbel.
Gobbel worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the sixth, then ran into even more serious trouble in the seventh. Three singles and three walks produced three runs to make it 9-4, and the Trojans had the bases full.
Thomas Allen relieved Gobbel to get the last out, throwing only two pitches for a save. He got ahead of No. 9 hitter William Miller with a strike and retired him on a routine groundball.
“That was a really good sign that we didn’t just roll over against a team of that quality,” said Hubbard, whose team is as young as any in the league. “You try to pick out positives, and we had positives. Still, sooner or later we have to put together complete games and get some wins.”
NOTES: Northwest last beat East in 2005 when Nick Daniels shut out the Mustangs at Staton Field. … Weather permitting, a big battle for first place looms Friday when East takes on Lake Norman. Both are unbeaten in the NPC.