Pitcher Mike Facchinei, a UNC signee, made sure that Lincolntonâ€™s return into the 2A State Playoffs was short-lived.
Facchinei, a 6â€™3â€ right-hander held Lincolnton to just three hits in West Hendersonâ€™s 4-1 victory Tuesday night at Brookins Memorial Field.
In the top of the second, T.W. Moore lined one between third and short. An error in the outfield scored Owens to give West Henderson a 2-0 advantage.
That was all the Falcons, who represent the Western Highlands Conference, would need with last yearâ€™s All-State selection Facchinei on the mound.
A serviceable fastball and a nasty breaking curve ball riddled the Wolvesâ€™ batters all night, with Facchinei racking up 12 strikeouts on the night.
â€œI felt I pitched alright. My emotions got to me a little too much, but my teammates really hit the ball well and supported me the whole way,â€ Facchinei said.
Senior Justin Keever, Lincolntonâ€™s ace who carried a 1.38 ERA into the game, matched Facchineiâ€™s performance.
While not striking out nearly as many (five), Keever only gave up one earned run, while scattering seven hits.
Lincolntonâ€™s defense which had been above average all season committed an uncharacteristic five errors in the game.
A couple of Wolvesâ€™ mental errors led to the bases loaded in the top of the fourth. But Keever made a play on a bunt flipping the ball to Evan Wise to Matt Pruitt at the plate to prevent a run.
Moore the next batter, who had two RBIs in the game, had a fielderâ€™s choice to give the Falcons a 3-0 lead.
Keever buckled down and was able to get Facchinei looking to get out of the inning without further damage.
Wolves head coach Bobby Martin was pleased with his aceâ€™s performance.
â€œKeever pitched a good ballgame. He had a bases loaded situation, and only gave up one run,â€ he said.
In the fifth inning Matt Kuster appeared to get the Wolves on the scoreboard. But a hard-hit line drive that looked to be out-of-the-park hit the top of the fence with Kuster having to settle for a double.
The Falcons scored in the top of the sixth via another Moore RBI scored Seth Grant to extend the lead to 4-0.
In the bottom of the seventh, Dustin Weaver with two outs reached on an error. Weaver quickly hustled to second on the play.
Facchinei then hit Kuster, Ebert and Colby Burgin with the bases loaded to walk in Weaver to give the Wolves their first run of the contest.
The Falconsâ€™ ace, who upped his record to 7-2, was able to record a strikeout to end the game and the Wolvesâ€™ successful season.
â€œThey were very beatable. If we put the ball into play a few more times,â€ Martin said.
Despite the first round exit Martin was filled with pride speaking of what his team accomplished.
â€œThey overachieved. Nobody gave them a chance, but Iâ€™m very proud of them and love them all. We were able to put together two win streaks, one a 7-game and the other an 8-game one,â€ he said.
Bradley Dalrymple, Justin Keever, Colby Burgin, Evan Wise, Pedro Fonseca, Jose Leon and Brian Ebert all played their last game in a Wolvesâ€™ uniform.
Martin believes losing those seven players will affect his club.
â€œWe hate to lose our seniorsâ€” they were the heart and soul of our ball club,â€ he said.
Keever echoed his coachâ€™s sentiments and chose to reflect on the season as a whole.
â€œWe werenâ€™t expected to go far, but we played hard. Itâ€™s always been my dream since I was in middle school watching guys like Shane Sigmon play to make it to the playoffs. Iâ€™m disappointed we lost, but Iâ€™m happy to have made it,â€ he said.
Leading hitters for the Falcons were Moore who went 2-for-4 with two RBIs and Luke Lovelace who went 2-for-4.
Leading the Wolves was Kuster who went 1-for-2 and Burgin who had a RBI.
The Wolves finish the season with a 16-10 record, one in which it saw them finish second in the Midwest 2A Conference.
by John Mark Brooks