Legion baseball: Rowan 18, Mooresville 2
By David Shaw
This is what happens when you eat all of your vegetables.
Visiting Mooresville was no match for Rowan County in Game 1 of the best-of-three Area III championship series Monday night. Rowan banged out 17 hits ó including home runs by Zach Smith and Noah Holmes ó and coasted to an abbreviated 18-2 victory.”We’re just trying to get ready for the state tournament,” said Holmes, who contributed three singles and his fourth homer of the season. “Right now we’re hitting great, so we can’t complain. Everybody’s hitting. Everybody’s playing. So hopefully it will carry over.”
Rowan (26-6) can wrap up the series tonight at Mooresville. At stake is a No. 1 seed in the state tourney, which begins Saturday at East Carolina’s Clark-LeClair Stadium.
“I don’t know who we’re lined up with,” Rowan coach Jim Gantt said. “It does matter, but you’ve got to be careful what you wish for because everyone’s capable of winning it. You’ve got to beat them all at this point.”
Mooresville (18-11) exhausted most of its pitching rotation in a five-game series with High Point ó and it showed. Then Post 66 lost left-handed starter Ian Walters, who suffered a hip flexor after throwing a second-inning wild pitch.
“I think Rowan just hit the ball tonight,” Mooresville coach Josh Graham said. “We’re a little short on pitching, but everything they hit, they seemed to hit hard. At one point we were over here saying, ‘What do we do now?’ ”
Mooresville scored the game’s first run when its first three batters delivered base hits against Rowan starter Corbin Shive. The tall right-hander escaped further trouble by fanning Ross Whitley, picking off Billy Nantz at first base and firing a hard strike three past Brantley Horton.
“Corbin settled in after the first inning, and that was important,” Gantt said. “If he didn’t have the stuff he had, that could have been a big inning. He kept the damage to a minimum.”
Shive (6-0) hurled five innings, struck out seven and picked off a second baserunner ó Mooresville’s Chase LeVan in the third ó before yielding to relievers Russell Michalec and Parker Gobbel, each of whom pitched a scoreless inning.
“They put me on about a 75-pitch count,” Shive said. “They wanted some other guys to get a turn. I was able to get a lot of outs without throwing a lot of pitches.”
Rowan tied the score in the bottom of the first inning, went ahead 2-1 in the second and cracked the game open with four runs against reliever Taylor Thurber in the third. Billy Veal steered a run-scoring single into right field. Philip Miclat delivered a two-run base hit, and Preston Troutman made it 6-1 with a two-out RBI single. By game’s end the bottom three batters in Rowan’s lineup ó Matt Miller, Miclat and Troutman ó combined to go 5-for-10 with six RBIs.
“Those guys came up with people on base and hit it hard,” Shive said. “It was good to see them do that.”
Rowan’s fifth inning was reminiscent of Celine Dion’s Titanic theme song ó it went on and on and on. Smith’s three-run homer to left field and Michalec’s two-run single highlighted an eight-run inning that made it 17-2.
Holmes closed the scoring when he drove a first-pitch changeup from Jacob Mays over the wall in left-center leading off the last of the sixth.
“I was just trying to find a good pitch to hit, and I got one,” Holmes said. “Everyone was hitting tonight. Even when they brought in different pitchers and we brought in different people, we all kept hitting.”
NOTES: Gantt said Troutman will start for Rowan tonight, but expect Veal to make a relief appearance. Graham is undecided on his starter. Aaron Meadows was originally penciled in for Game 2, but he was injured when his brother dropped a stereo speaker on his right foot Monday afternoon. … Smith, Rowan’s center fielder, reeled in the catch of the day when he made a diving grab in left-center to rob Whitley of an extra-base hit in the fourth inning. … Newman Park entertainer Dr. Clyde Young celebrated his 85th birthday.