Legion Baseball: Rowan 29, Randolph County 6
By Mike London
At least one Randolph County fan sat down the left-field line at Newman Park in the midst of a clump of Rowan supporters.
When the visitor from Asheboro headed in the direction of the concession stand between the second and third innings, his Post 45 comrades seated in the bleachers gave him a loud ribbing.
“Well, are you amongst friends down there?” one asked cheerfully.
“Believe it or not,” he replied, without missing a beat, “they’re rooting for us.”
You couldn’t blame Rowan fans for cheering silently every time a Randolph pitcher got someone out Sunday ó at least the Rowan fans who had a job or school waiting for them Monday morning.
Rowan won 29-6 in a ball game that was transformed into a circus by the first two innings. Rowan (7-1) sent 31 batters to the plate in the first two frames. Twelve got hits. Eleven walked. Twenty-one scored. It was 21-0.
“Never in my life have I been part of something like that,” Rowan left fielder Russell Michalec said. “We were just very patient. When we scored 10 in the first, we were looking at each other like, ‘Man, is this really happening.’ “Rowan cleanup man Trey Holmes batted twice in the first and twice in the second. When that happens, Rowan’s chances are decent.
Randolph (3-7) won the state championship last season and beat Rowan in the Area III championship series.
Randolph still has some outstanding players such as Hunter Ridge and Steven Davis, but coach Ronnie Pugh is still piecing a pitching staff together. Last night was an audition for young arms. Pugh got to see three of them work in the first inning alone.
“They pitched two 15-year-olds, and they just didn’t throw strikes,” Rowan coach Jim Gantt said. “We got a lead and our hitters could relax with no pressure whatsoever.”
Zach Smith walked three times and scored five runs. Leadoff man Philip Miclat, had four runs and four RBIs. He had two RBI doubles in the second inning alone.
Rowan, which played without its hottest hitter, Jon Crucitti, who was making a visit to East Carolina, pounded 18 hits and got three RBIs apiece from Michalec, Smith, Billy Veal, Trey Holmes and Noah Holmes. Corbin Shive was 2-for-4. Matt Miller and Preston Troutman scored three runs apiece.
Both Holmes brothers hit majestic homers in the second inning. Trey hit a three-run blast. After Veal walked, Noah hit a two-run shot.
“It was weird,” Miclat said. “We didn’t even take BP because the Junior Legion had a game before us. But then we all came out and hit the ball.”
Rowan starter Forrest Buchanan had a strange night. He’d pitch an inning, then wait 35 minutes to pitch another one. He lasted four frames and earned the win since the game was shortened to seven innings by the 10-run rule.
“Everyone thinks it’s easy to pitch in a game like that because you’ve got that big lead, but it’s not easy,” Gantt said. “It was like Forrest had to start over three times. That’s hard to do.”
Randolph scored three times against Buchanan in the third to get on the scoreboard. Rowan relievers Parker Gobbel, Alex Litaker and Ethan Marsh got in an inning of work apiece to finish things off.
Ridge and Bradley Holland had two hits each to lead Randolph.
Michalec paced Rowan’s defensive effort with a running, sliding catch in deep left-center in the fourth.
A good crowd, which included former Rowan players Matt Hall and Micah Jarrett, appreciated the effort.