Legion baseball: Rowan 8, Mooresville 7
By David Shaw
Rowan County extended its winning streak to three games Friday night at Newman Park ó and it was all Zach Smith’s fault.
The slugging outfielder had four RBIs, the last two on a seventh-inning single, helping Rowan rally from six runs down for an 8-7 Southern Division win against Mooresville.
“I guess we’re lucky,” coach Jim Gantt said after the locals wiped out a 7-1 deficit. “That’s all I can say.”
Division-leading Rowan (10-3, 7-2) can thank Smith, a .415 hitter who has knocked in 11 runs in the past three games. Last night he stroked a solo home run off Mooresville lefty Nick Lomascolo in the fourth inning, was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the fifth and delivered the game-winning hit against Post 66 reliever Wes Dumford in the seventh.
“We knew we had a chance to come back,” Smith said. “As a team, we just never give up.”
That seemed likely after Mooresville (4-3, 3-3) roughed up Rowan starting pitcher Corbin Shive for six runs in the top of the third inning. All of them scored after Shive ó who had blasted his team-leading fifth home run an inning earlier ó induced groundouts from Mooresville’s first two batters.
“He didn’t have his good stuff, couldn’t locate balls,” Gantt said. “He didn’t have his breaking pitch at all. After that long inning I didn’t think it would be wise to let him stay out there and labor through it.”
Meanwhile, visiting coach Josh Graham was pinching himself. A six-run lead with the Catawba-bound Lomascolo sailing on the mound and Shive knocked out seemed too good to be true.
“We knew if we got Corbin out of there, that was half the battle,” Graham said. “But they’ve got the luxury of having five or six guys in the pen who can come in and get people out. It’s hard to get in a groove when you’re seeing all different pitchers.”
Gantt paraded five relievers to the mound, each of whom proved effective. At the same time Rowan’s bats came to life. First came Smith’s home run, a towering drive to left-center on a 2-1 changeup. In the fifth Matt Miller and Philip Miclat had run-scoring singles, trimming the deficit to 7-4. After Smith’s HBP forced home another run, Trey Holmes lined a sac fly to left that made it 7-6.
“Lomo was going through us,” Miclat said. “It was tough to come back from 7-1 against him. Guess things just went our way.”
They did. In the last of the seventh Rowan loaded the bases with Smith due up.
“When I went to the mound to get Lomo,” Graham said, “I told Nick, ‘You haven’t gotten this guy out in four years.’ He agreed. We didn’t have to vote on it.”
Smith greeted Dumford with a sharp single to left that drove in teammates Ethan Fisher and Russell Michalec. The rest was up to Rowan’s bullpen ó Forest Buchanan earned his fourth win and Nick Smith his first save.
The play that saved Rowan came when Miller, Rowan’s catcher, threw out Chase Levan attempting to steal third base with two men on and one out in the top of the ninth.
“It was a dirt-ball read,” Miclat said. “He took off as soon as the ball hit the dirt. But Miller scooped it and threw the guy out. It was the play of the game.”
NOTE: Rowan returns to action Sunday at Stanly County.