Legion Baseball: Rowan 9, Stanly 3: Rowan leads series 2-1
By Mike London
Undefeated Forrest Buchanan pitched great again, and Corbin Shive and Philip Miclat slugged homers out of Newman Park, but it was a little bit of hustle that ignited Rowan County’s 9-3 victory against Stanly on Saturday night.
Rowan (21-5) grabbed a 2-1 lead in a best-of-five series and will seek a clincher tonight in Albemarle.
Buchanan (7-0) threw eight effective innings, and Zach Smith and Trey Holmes paced a 13-hit attack with three apiece, but everyone will remember Rowan’s five-run fourth inning that turned the game.
Behind pitcher Wes Hatley, fourth-seeded Stanly held a 2-0 lead when Billy Veal’s one-out triple into the right-field corner got a big crowd stirring. Hatley appeared to notch a huge second out when Preston Troutman swung and missed for strike three on a diving curveball, but the ball struck dirt before it found catcher Jordan Sells’ mitt.
Sells gloved the ball quickly, but Troutman wasn’t standing around watching. He was sprinting. Troutman avoided Sells’ lunging tag by inches ó plate umpire Cecil Mock was right on top of the call ó forcing the catcher make the throw to first base. Sells had time, but he fired high to Colten Burris, and the ball headed down the right-field line. Veal scored to put Rowan on the scoreboard and Troutman didn’t slow down until he reached third base. Game 3 changed big-time, and so, probably, did the entire series.
“A perfect example right there of what hustle can do,” Rowan coach Jim Gantt said. “If Preston doesn’t take off immediately none of what happened happens. That hustle enabled us to open the floodgates.”
Hatley had to be frustrated after watching a strikeout transformed into a triple. He got behind the slumping Miclat 3-1. He threw him a fastball down the middle. Miclat, a Boston College signee, drove it over the wall in left-center, and Rowan led 3-2.
“I’ve not been hitting well at all,” Miclat said. “I was like 0-for-15 or something, and I’m sure he didn’t want to walk the No. 8 hitter and came after me with a fastball. I was looking for it. Maybe I got lucky and just ran into one there, but I’ll take it. It’s been a rough stretch.”
After Austin Shull was hit by a pitch, Holmes laced a run-scoring double and took third on the throw to the plate. Russell Michalec’s sac fly gave Rowan a 5-2 lead, and the home team was on its way to its 13th straight victory at Newman Park.
Shive hit a solo homer leading off the fifth. Miclat added an RBI double in the seventh before No. 9 batter Shull drew a two-out walk that gave Holmes an opportunity to hammer a two-run triple.
“Every time I get on base it gives us a big chance to score because Trey is on fire right now,” Shull said.
Buchanan fanned seven and scattered 10 hits before getting relief help from Parker Gobbel in the ninth.
“Forrest was placing everything right where it needed to be, Shull said. “Lots of swings and misses.”
Rowan backed Buchanan with exceptional defense that featured a fine running catch by Smith in center field as he charged into the wall, Shull’s pickoff of a runner at first base and a pair of double plays.
Holmes, the first baseman, turned a potential double on a smash down the line by Alex Robichaud into a sixth-inning double play that ended any realistic chance for Stanly (14-12) to stage a comeback of its own.
“Huge play by Trey,” Gantt said. “He’s one of the best I’ve seen.”