By Marny Hendrick
SALISBURY — Memorial Day is a day of remembrance but last night’s legion baseball game at Newman Park was one the Rowan team will quickly want to forget.
A disastrous first two innings put Rowan in a 12-0 hole as visiting Mooresville Post 66 cruised to a 14-5 win Monday night. Rowan (3-2) had to use three pitchers in the top of the first alone before they could close it out. The Moors (3-3) benefited from eight walks, two wild pitches, a hit batter and two timely singles to lead 7-0. Only a double play turned by the defense and a put-out at home plate kept the score from being any worse.
Harrison Bell got the start and walked three before giving way to Joseph Peeler, who walked four more and hit a batter. Travis Holshouser came on and finally ended the long half-inning.
“You’ve got no chance out of the gate if you don’t throw strikes, Rowan Coach Jim Gantt noted. “The guys weren’t trying to throw balls by any means but it went bad early and their nerves got to them a little.”
The Moors pounded out five runs on five hits in the top of the second to make it 12-0 off Holshouser as they batted around again. Shortstop Brett Pope drove in his third run enroute to a 4-for-5 night with three RBIs. Outfielder Garrett Bell, who had two hits and four RBI’s also had a key single in the second.
Even with the early lead, Moors head coach Seth Graham cautioned his team not to relax.
“I told them there is never a safe lead in this ball park, “Graham said. “I played here and I coached here and I have seen it happen. I am just happy to walk out of here with the score the way it was.”
To Rowan’s credit, they continued to compete despite the big deficit and the real possibility of a 10-run rule loss.
“You just have to keep battling back and not try to score them all at once,” DH Justin Evans said.
He came up with a pair of hits in the later innings, including an RBI single in the seventh that extended the game. “We just tried to chip away. This is just a small skip in the road and we will put it behind us.”
Rowan stayed in the game with solid middle and late relief pitching by Brandon White and especially Riley Myers. White allowed a pair of runs in the fifth on Bell’s two-run double but nothing else. Myers came on and pitched the last four innings allowing absolutely nothing but a bunt single in the ninth.
“Everything was working for me tonight and I just tried to throw strikes,” Myers stated. “It was good enough to put up four zeros and give us a chance.”
Gantt was impressed.
“He’s got a good arm and I really like watching him pitch.” he said. “He acts like he’s been there before and has good stuff.”
Rowan got on the board in the third with a single run on Luke Setzer’s RBI single. Brian Bauk slammed a triple high off the center-field fence in the fifth to make it 14-2. Then in the seventh they worked reliever Michael Elwell for three walks followed by Evans’ big hit to make it 14-5. But they also left the bases loaded in the inning, and stranded 12 for the night.
Post 66 starter Logan Beegle only lasted 42/3 innings despite the big lead so Ryan James come on in the fifth to earn the win.
Bell (0-2) took the loss for Rowan. It looks to bounce back tonight against Concord Post 51 at Central Cabarrus High field.