Legion baseball: Rowan 22, Stanly 5

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 24, 2009

By Mike London
Rowan County erased the sour taste of a stunning loss at Stanly County with a 22-5 victory in Wednesday’s rematch at Newman Park.
First-place Rowan (13-4, 10-3) staged a 14-run sixth inning that threatened to last until Thanksgiving. Trey Holmes stayed smoking hot with two homers and six RBIs to back strong pitching by Corbin Shive.
“I looked at us losing to Stanly as a freaky kind of event,” Rowan second baseman Philip Miclat said. “We blew an 8-1 lead that night, and that won’t happen to us very often. We were ready. We ripped the ball.”
Stanly starter Adrian Shepherd, a lefty with some heat and a good curveball, has been a tough customer all summer, but Rowan was eager for payback.
“I heard the players talking about Stanly and knew I didn’t have to give any speeches,” Rowan coach Jim Gantt said. “We had Corbin on the mound, and when he pitches the guys always feel like they have a good chance to win and they relax. We were also at home, and we’ve been more focused here. There wasn’t a real big crowd, but the players still know fans have expectations.”
Rowan has put 50 runs on the scoreboard the last three nights at Newman Park in a trio of romps. The catalyst for the offensive explosion has been Holmes, who’s led off the last three games after spending most of his career in the middle of the lineup.
“Maybe I’ve hit leadoff before sometime, but I don’t remember it,” Holmes said. “I approach leadoff the same as I do hitting anywhere else. I try to see the pitch deep. If I like it, I hit it.”
Holmes has been getting an awful lot of pitches he likes.
The lefty swinger belted a double and a homer in his last two at-bats against Kannapolis on Monday. He was 4-for-5 against South Rowan with another homer Tuesday. His six trips to the plate against Stanly (8-7, 6-6) produced three walks ó two with the bases loaded ó and three hits.
That means he’s officially on a 9-for-10 streak. He hit his 13th and 14th career homers, tying Michael Lowman and Cass Safrit for 10th on Rowan’s all-time list.
“We made the change with Trey just trying to change his mindset and get him to relax a little bit,” Gantt said. “It’s worked out well so far.”
Holmes drove a Shepherd pitch over the wall to start the Rowan first, but Shepherd stranded Zach Smith at third base after a triple. Then Shepherd looked sharp in the second and third innings.
“He’s good enough he could very easily have shut us down all night,” Holmes said. “But he left some pitches up, and we hit his mistakes.”
Rowan scored three runs in the fourth to take charge. Jon Crucitti opened the inning with a double. After Shive walked, Noah Holmes, Trey’s younger brother, made a perfect bunt toward third base. Shepherd probably had no play at first, but he whirled and threw in that direction only to find no one covering. Rowan runners motored around the bases. Miclat’s RBI single and Matt Miller’s sac fly made it 4-1.
Crucitti’s two-run homer highlighted a four-run fifth that made it 8-1, the same deficit Stanly rallied from on Sunday.
When Alex Robichaud powered a three-run homer off Shive in the sixth to make it 8-4, Rowan fans had to be wondering about a repeat disaster, but Shive limited the damage to that one big blow.
Shive rebounded from a shaky start against Mooresville. He’s still never lost a Legion game and is 5-0 in his career.
“I couldn’t throw an off-speed pitch for a strike at Mooresville, so they just sat on fastballs,” Shive said. “My slider was a little better tonight, and I also located the fastball better.”
Rowan sent 19 batters to the plate in its huge sixth inning. Miller had two hits in the inning, and Holmes blasted a three-run homer.
Alex Litaker pitched the seventh and allowed one run.