Legion Baseball: Rowan 15, South Rowan 3: Rowan wins battle of first
By Mike London
South Rowan turned five double plays on Tuesday, but South outfielders also turned around three times to watch Rowan County homers sail out of Newman Park.
Rowan accumulated 17 hits and seven walks and mashed South 15-3 in a game that broke a tie for first place.
Trey Holmes, Philip Miclat and Russell Michalec hit longballs for Rowan (12-4, 9-3), which swept the season series and boosted its all-time record against South to 26-6. Corbin Shive’s homer streak finally ended, but he still was 3-for-3.
“I don’t know what it is, but every time we play them, they’re clicking with the bats no matter who we’ve got pitching,” South shortstop Matt Ingold said. “If we don’t turn the double plays, it’s a lot uglier.”
Billy Veal (3-0) tossed six strong innings for Rowan, struck out five and didn’t allow an earned run.
“Billy made pitches whenever he had to,” Rowan coach Jim Gantt said. “He had some long innings. There were times he tried to go too hard after we made errors behind him, but he’s an experienced college pitcher. He settled back down and made good pitches.”
Veal won two key battles ó with Ryan Bostian in the fourth and Julio Zubillaga in the sixth.
It was 3-3 in the fourth, and South had Bostian, a .380 hitter, at the plate with two out and the bases loaded. Veal got behind 3-0 but rallied to strike out Bostian swinging on a 3-2 fastball up around his shoulders.
“Luck of the draw,” Veal said. “I’m trying to locate a fastball. It was up, but Ryan chased it.”
With Rowan leading 9-3 in the sixth, South (10-4, 8-4) had the bases full again with one out. Gantt visited the mound as Zubillaga prepared to hit and Bostian moved on deck.
“Coach asked me what I’d do ó would I’d pull myself out of the game right there,” Veal said. “I told him I was thinking about getting a double-play ball. I threw a curve. Zubillaga rolled over on it, and it goes right to (shortstop) Preston Troutman at the bag.”
That twin killing was South’s last chance.
“Opportunities were there, but we didn’t execute,” South left fielder Caleb Shore said. “Give Rowan credit. They hit the ball. They came to play.”
Rowan banged out four hits off South starter Will Misenheimer in the first inning but settled for two runs.
Rowan rapped into double plays in each of the first three innings ó Ingold was all over the place ó but it went a long way toward winning the game in the bottom of the fourth. Rowan broke a 3-3 tie when Shive scored on a throwing error. Then No. 9 hitter Austin Shull delivered a two-out single that made it 5-3. New leadoff man Trey Holmes got a chance to swing, and he belted a two-run homer. That blast changed the flow of a game played in front of a huge crowd.
“Austin came through with a big hit to keep it going,” Holmes said. “That gave me a chance to make something happen, and fortunately, I did. That gave us a lot of momentum.”
Handed a four-run lead, Veal went back to the mound with the pressure off and enjoyed a 1-2-3 fifth. Then he got the key double-play ball off Zubillaga’s bat in the sixth.
Cody Laws pitched a scoreless seventh for Rowan. Then Miclat and Michalec lashed no-doubt, three-run homers off South’s bullpen to end it early.
“They got a fastball up, and I was ready to go home,” Michalec said with a smile.
South coach Michael Lowman, who starred for Rowan a decade ago, wasn’t smiling. Not much went right, and an interference call in the third killed a serious South threat.
“We didn’t pitch it the way we wanted to, we didn’t play well, and Rowan did,” he said. “The key thing was when we got our three runs in the fourth, Rowan came right back in their half with four. That seemed to revitalize Veal.”
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