The North Lincoln Knights blasted the Highland Tech Rams 14-3 Friday.
T.J. Skidmore earned the win, pitching six innings and scattering five hits. Skidmore struck out four and gave up two earned runs.
The Knights hit early and often versus the Rams. For the game, the home team tallied 17 hits.
Sophomore Trent Hopkins went 3-for-4 with three stolen bases and a RBI. Junior Kyle Baker went 3-for-4 with two RBIs. Hopkinsâ€™ three swiped bags make him 21-for-21 on the season.
Junior Josh Belk went 3-for-5 with three RBIs and two stolen bases. Jeremy Grove went 2-for-3 with two RBIs.
The Knights improve to 8-11, 7-2 in the Southern Foothills.
â€œIt was a big win. We needed to come out and get it done in five or six innings. I told them to go at them hard,â€ North Lincoln head coach Sean Andrews said.
How things go for North Lincoln this week will determine who will come away with the SF 1A crown.
The Knights will host Polk County tomorrow. While Tuesdayâ€™s game is important, itâ€™s the showdown versus Bessemer City that is pivotal.
The Yellow Jackets currently hold a 4-3 lead in the top of the sixth when play resumes on Thursday at 5 p.m.
The game was suspended due to darkness and was scheduled to be completed the next time the two teams met.
â€œWe got to stay relaxed, go out and play our game. Weâ€™ve been playing great defense the past five or six games. The pitching has really stepped up,â€ Andrews said.
Alex Loftin will pitch versus Polk County tomorrow. In his last outing, Loftin pitched five innings against Hendersonville and struck out eight batters, while only allowing one hit.
â€œIf our bats can get going, weâ€™ll hopefully score him some runs and weâ€™ll be 8-2 after tomorrow,â€ Andrews said.
Andrews said that despite the enormity of this weekâ€™s game, his team has stayed loose. So loose, in fact, Andrews has often worried about their focus as late as 30 minutes before a game.
â€œThe good thing about these kids is I think they have some idea whatâ€™s happening, but they really just love to play baseball and theyâ€™re having a great time with it,â€ he said.
â€œIâ€™m the serious one before the game and they tell me, hey coach we got it, donâ€™t worry it,â€ Andrews said.
The Knights will have plenty of motivation entering Thursdayâ€™s game. In the second-to-last game of the season last year, the Yellow Jackets came back in the seventh inning to win.
The comeback is not what Andrews wanted his players to remember. It was Bessemer Cityâ€™s over-the-top celebration.
â€œI told the guys to watch them and remember that. Because the next time we play them, weâ€™re going to do that to them,â€ he said.
As of now, the Knights are just happy they control their own destiny.
â€œItâ€™s a great feeling. As a coach, I have to not put too much pressure on them,â€ Andrews said.
Highland 003 000 â€”3 5 3
North Lincoln422 204 â€”14 17 1
by John Mark Brooks