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 Knightsâ€™ 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.
â€œTrent has been a hitter thatâ€™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,â€ 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 Bordersâ€™ 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 Knightsâ€™ 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 Knightsâ€™ 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, thatâ€™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 Skidmoreâ€™s performance, noting that his demeanor serves him well.
â€œT.J. is showing some ability as a hitter and as a closer he may have one or two bad batters, but deep down heâ€™s going to fight for me. Heâ€™s got a good poker faceâ€”you canâ€™t tell if heâ€™s given up a big hit or has struck out the side,â€ he said.
The win was pleasing to Andrews, but he felt his team lacked the finishing mentality.
â€œIf 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,â€ he said.
Andrews did credit his opponentâ€™s resiliency.
â€œThey donâ€™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 donâ€™t give up, Iâ€™ll give them that,â€ he said.
The Knights felt they had plenty of inspiration before the first pitch was even thrown.
â€œWhen 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,â€ 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