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North holds on to beat East 8-7

Shane Brackett had two doubles and three RBIs in losing cause for the Mustangs. Brackett had four RBIs against Berry Academy on Tuesday.
Jenny Walling / LTN

The North Lincoln Knights baseball team jumped out to 6-0 lead and survived a late East Lincoln rally to win 8-7 Wednesday.
Freshman Trent Hopkins jump-started the Knights’ effort, hitting a three-run homer in the first inning, his second of the year.
The big hit came as no surprise to North head coach Sean Andrews.
“Trent has been a hitter that’s been there all year for us. When (Mustangs Coach Matt) Neville put Belk on intentionally and he was up, I had no doubt in my mind that he was going to take that as a smack in the face and step up to the challenge,” he said.
T.J. Skidmore had a double and RBI in the second. Teammate Ryan Pendleton drove in two runs of his own in the inning giving the Knights a 6-0 lead.
The Mustangs answered in the third inning with three runs. Russell Mahaffy doubled, then Jake Black walked. Teammate Grayson Schram stroked a two RBI single to put East on the scoreboard. Shane Brackett recorded a RBI double to narrow the margin to 6-3.
The Knights refused to relinquish the lead. After a Devin Borders’ walk, pinch-runner Clay Kiser stole second. Skidmore quickly delivered with a RBI double, knocking in his second of the game. Alex Loftin, the starting pitcher, helped his own cause with a RBI single for a 8-3 Knights’ lead.
Trent Hovis and Schram reached on errors in the fifth. Brackett came up with his second double of the game knocking both of them in making the score 8-5 Knights’ advantage.
Back-to-back steals in the sixth by Mahaffy and Hovis allowed Jack Black a sacrifice RBI. Schram, the next batter, grounded out but plated Hovis to bring the Mustangs to within 1 run, 8-7.
However, that’s as close as they would come with neither team able to score in the seventh.
Loftin worked four and a third innings to earn the victory for the Knights. Skidmore picked up his second save of the season.
Andrews was pleased with Skidmore’s performance, noting that his demeanor serves him well.
“T.J. is showing some ability as a hitter and as a closer he may have one or two bad batters, but deep down he’s going to fight for me. He’s got a good poker face—you can’t tell if he’s given up a big hit or has struck out the side,” he said.
The win was pleasing to Andrews, but he felt his team lacked the finishing mentality.
“If I had long hair I bet I would have gray hair by now. I was happy with the win, but I was upset that we let them come back into the game,” he said.
Andrews did credit his opponent’s resiliency.
“They don’t back down. They kept battling. We had them beat at their place and they came back and won. We had them beat at our place and they took a big deficit and turned it into a one run game. They don’t give up, I’ll give them that,” he said.
The Knights felt they had plenty of inspiration before the first pitch was even thrown.
“When we showed up to the field, some of their players had a broom out. My players will not trash talk, but will let their bats do the talking,” Andrews said.
The Knights improve to 4-6 on the season and 1-1 in the conference. The Mustangs fall to 2-8 and 1-2.by John Mark Brooks

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