Magnolia’s Rowan Picks Right Time for His Home Run
Grantt Rowan, Magnolia High School’s designated hitter, says he hits home runs every day in practice. But he had failed to clear the fence in a game this season before Thursday’s 4-A playoff game against Sunny Hills.
Rowan picked an opportune time to finally display his home-run-hitting prowess, belting a three-run homer to center in the seventh inning that gave Magnolia a 9-5 victory over Sunny Hills in the opening round of the playoffs.
Magnolia (13-10) broke a 5-5 tie by scoring four runs in the top of the seventh, three of them coming when Rowan smashed a chest-high fastball from Rick Orr (7-3) and deposited it about 385 feet from home plate.
Rowan had three hits and drove in five runs as Magnolia won its first playoff game in seven years. In between trips to the plate, Rowan spent the afternoon cheering his teammates.
When asked what the designated hitter does in the dugout while his team is on the field, Rowan replied, “Usually lose my voice. There isn’t much to do, so I yell as much encouragement to the guys as I can.”
Sunny Hills (15-12) committed five errors that led to four runs. Right fielder Steve Ashton made a key mistake in the first inning, overplaying a single that resulted in three runs.
“It wasn’t like the errors were tough plays,” Sunny Hills Coach Doug Elliot said. “We got into a four-run hole in the first inning and that took away a lot of things we like to do after that. This game typified our season.”
Despite the mistakes, Sunny Hills managed to tie the score, 5-5, by scoring two runs in the first inning and then adding three more in the fifth. But Magnolia regained control when leadoff batter Tony Truel and teammate Maurico Hernandez opened the seventh with singles, setting the stage for Rowan.
Elliot went to the mound to talk to Orr following the two singles, but decided to stay with the right-hander against Rowan. He later defended the strategy.
“He was going against a right-handed hitter, and we were hoping an inside pitch would produce a double play. Instead, he throws the ball up high into his wheelhouse and it was gone. Our scouting report said the kid had no power, but that was a poke.”