Baseball: Holmes brothers to ASU
By Mike London
GRANITE QUARRY ó No one really saw this coming on March 19, 2007, when East Rowan’s Trey Holmes was lying face down on the chilly ground near third base at Davie’s Rich Park following a slide and clutching his injured left elbow.
Holmes’ promising pitching career headed south that night, and a southpaw hurler with a disabled arm, a .286 batting average and limited power doesn’t have a future.
But Holmes fooled everyone. He evolved into a monster hitter and got stronger without losing speed. Now he and his younger brother, Noah, a phenom at third base almost from the day he stepped on the field for East Rowan’s varsity, officially have Division I futures.
The Holmes brothers will be a baseball tag-team in college. Trey, a sophomore at Pitt Community College and Noah, a senior at East, recently committed to play at Appalachian State.
The chance to play at a D-I program ó and to play together ó was the deciding factor. Both weighed multiple offers, but all except those from ASU and Catawba would have sent them separate ways.
Noah, who has drawn major interest this fall, visited North Carolina, Virginia Tech and Charlotte. Western Carolina has had an offer on the table a long time.
Catawba coach Jim Gantt, who guided the Holmes boys in Legion ball, tried hard to get them and was Appalachian’s toughest competition.
“Appalachian is the right choice,” Trey said. “I just know that it is, but the hardest thing of all was calling Coach Gantt to tell him.”
The dual commitment caps a wonderful year for the Holmes family, one in which the lefty-hitting siblings helped Rowan County win the American Legion state championship and Southeast Regional before challenging in the World Series.
Family is important to the brothers, and not just their ties to each other.
“I had a great offer from UNC Wilmington, but they play all over the place,” Trey explained. “Appalachian plays at UNC Greensboro. They play at Elon. There’s a lot of games within easy driving distance for my parents, grandparents and our younger brother.”
As a sophomore at East in 2006, Trey batted .197. He had a good glove and a good eye that produced plenty of walks, but mostly he was a crafty pitcher. He was 3-0 with a 1.63 ERA.
Then came that injury his junior season. In the summer of 2007, he couldn’t pitch and batted a quiet .263 with three homers for the Legion team. It’s not like scouts were beating down the door.
But his athletic ability kicked in as a Mustang senior. He started at forward for the basketball team and caught TD passes for a good football team. In baseball, his pitching comeback fell short of his hopes (2-0 in 24 innings), but his bat came alive. He hit .376 with 30 RBIs.
Noah joined Trey on the varsity squad that season. As a sophomore, Noah batted .294 and his glove at third was solid gold. The Mustangs went 29-5 and placed second in 3A.
Trey signed with Pitt in the spring of 2008. Most had never heard of it, but Pitt was the school that showed the most interest and the school that came to watch him play, and Trey appreciated it. The junior college also had first-rate facilities and first-rate coaching.
“It wasn’t a case where Trey wasn’t qualified academically to go somewhere,” East coach Brian Hightower said. “It’s just that Trey saw Pitt as a great place to be.”
In the summer of 2008, the Holmes brothers became headliners for the Legion program. Noah broke out, leading the team in RBIs with 54 and batting a scalding .412. Trey was second on the team with 43 RBIs.
“There’s competition between us and we push each other, but there’s always been a lot more pulling for each other,” Noah said. “We’re really close.”
Trey had a fine freshman season as a first baseman at Pitt. He batted .361. Noah was right with him. He hit .351 his junior year at East.
Trey was still eligible for Legion in 2009, but he struggled early. Counted on to produce runs, he didn’t hit with men on.
“I had one bad weekend at Pitt and it got in my head,” Trey said. “It carried over.”
Gantt, desperate to get Trey going and to take pressure off him, installed him at the leadoff spot in Rowan’s 15th game. The experiment was supposed to last a game or two, but it continued all season. Trey was born to be a leadoff hitter. His 16 homers, 73 RBIs and .455 batting average were one of the best seasons in Rowan history.
“Trey had always jumped into every sport at East, but once he was at Pitt he worked at baseball all year,” Hightower said. “Their conditioning program and weightlifting there made a difference.”
Noah hit .410 with 52 RBIs for the Legion team and did it almost invisibly because his brother was so torrid. He’s a .411 career hitter in Legion.
Heading into this fall, both brothers were in demand and had a decision to make.
East shortstop Preston Troutman’s recent commitment to ASU factored in.
Both brothers are close to him. Noah has played with Troutman since they were 5. Trey became good friends with Troutman during the Legion team’s summer run.
The Holmes brothers visited ASU together two weeks ago. They wished they’d brought along extra coats, but they liked what they saw.
The brothers met with Catawba’s Gantt and Michael Lowman. Then Trey visited UNC Wilmington along with Pitt coach Tom Eason.
“I’d gone up to Appalachian about six times and really liked the staff and the facilities,” Noah said. “They kind of laid down their offer and gave me a deadline to let them know something, and I guess it finally kinda came down to Trey’s decision.”
Trey’s decision was ASU, less expensive than Catawba, a chance to play a D-I schedule and a chance to play with his brother.
ASU will benefit.
“The brothers are great players ó everyone saw that in Legion this summer, and I don’t know how any team could do any better defensively at the corners than those two,” Hightower said. “What everyone may not know is the character they have and the high standard of work ethic they’ve set for us. They do everything right. The brothers and their family have made a great impact on East baseball. ”
No one saw it coming when Trey was lying on the ground injured 21/2 years ago, but the Holmes boys are Division I, and they’ll do it together. Noah plans to room with Troutman, while Trey will room with former Mustang Kurt Misenheimer.
“I never second-guessed my decision to go to Pitt, and it’s all worked out,” Trey said. “Now Noah and I can be together again. Maybe together all the way to Omaha.”
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