West Lincolnâ€™s Dylan Anthony tries to apply the tag to Jake Taylor as he slides headfirst into second base on Wednesday. The Rebels won 6-1 against the Mustangs and will visit Cherryville today at 4:30 p.m.
Jenny Walling / Lincoln Times-News
The West Lincoln Rebels are off to a 5-1 start after defeating the East Lincoln Mustangs 6-1 on Wednesday.
Sophomore Jon Thomas provided the spark in the ball game. The 5-foot-11 pitcher allowed only four hits and struck out 10 Mustang batters, earning his second win of the season.
Neither team scored until the fifth inning when West finally broke through with one run. In the sixth inning the Rebels scored three to take a commanding 4-0 lead entering the final inning.
West added two more runs in the seventh. The Mustangs scored one run, but was unable to generate a serious rally.
Leading hitters for the Rebels were Daniel Scronce who went 2-for-3 with a triple and Paul Finger had a single.
Finger extended his hit streak to five games and will look to make it six against the Cherryville Ironmen on Friday.
Jake Black, Michael Griswald and Shane Brackett had a hit apiece for the Mustangs. Brackett also doubled and scored a run.
Tyler Wilson picked up the loss for the Mustangs.
Rebels head coach Allan Chapman was pleased with his teamâ€™s performance.
“We felt like he controlled the game from the first pitch until the last. They really never threatened until we made the error with two outs in the sixth,” he said.
Althought the they didnâ€™t rack up a lot of hits, Chapman believed his team compensated in other areas.
“Offensively, even though we didnâ€™t get a lot of hits, I felt like we put pressure on East Lincoln with some bunts, hit-and-runs and aggressive base running,” he said.
“Those are things weâ€™re going to have to do to be successful,” Chapman added.
Mustangs head coach Matt Neville believed it was Westâ€™s ability to get favorable pitch counts that hurt his team.
“West has done a great job with working ahead in their pitching staff. They do a good job of creating a 0-2 or 1-2 pitch count and make you hit their pitch. They keep their fielders alert because they throw strikes,” he said.
Chapman is pleased, but not really surprised at the teamâ€™s performance.
“We sat down at the beginning of the season and felt like we could be 5-1 or better to start out. Weâ€™re seven deep on the mound and have everybody back. We donâ€™t have to re-teach everything,” he said.
“Itâ€™s a matter of taking the lessons that we learned from last yearâ€™s rocky season and just getting better.”
West Lincoln will face a tough test against the traditionally strong the Cherryville Ironmen on Friday. The Rebelsâ€™ next game will be against county rival Lincolnton.
Chapman feels the next two games on the schedule will be a good gauge of where they stand.
“Both of those games are going to really determine where weâ€™re at. Cherryville is a good program and Lincolnton played for the conference tournament championship. We can play with anybody if we can play with those two teams,” he said.
“Mentally, I hope theyâ€™re prepared to play two rival games back-to-back.”
The Mustangs fall to 1-4 on the young season but Neville believes his team will respond to the challenge.
“Weâ€™re off to a slow start, but with the work ethic we display in practice I expect things to turn around in the near future. Our bats are cold, but our mechanics are getting better. I look for a lot more balls to be put in play,” he said.
East will face Lake Norman on Friday.by John Mark Brook