The East Lincoln Mustangs find themselves tied with South Point and East Gaston for the final two Big South 3A State Playoff berths.
The Mustangs, Warriors and Red Raiders are all 8-4 heading into the final week of the season. Ashbrook has already clinched the BS 3A title.
Itâ€™s been quite a turnaround for the Mustangs who last season finished 6-18, 5-9.
In large part, the Mustangs control their own playoff destiny. On Tuesday they will host the Warriors at the Corral and on Thursday pay a visit to South Point. If the green and orange can pull out both games, they will clinch a playoff spot.
â€œWeâ€™re hoping to use that energy to have a great week. How these games end up will determine our spot in the playoffs or if we make the playoffs,â€ Mustangsâ€™ head coach Matt Neville said.
East Lincoln received a huge lift from Jesse Cadenhead on Friday against Hunter Huss.
With the score tied 4-4, Cadenhead hit a game-winning double, scoring Todd Link. It was his third RBI of the game.
â€œIt was a hard-fought game. We were fortunate to come out on top. He (Jesse) stepped up and came through when it mattered the most,â€ Mustangsâ€™ head coach Matt Neville said.
While it happened to be Cadenhead on Friday, Neville feels many players have played the role of hero throughout the year.
â€œWeâ€™ve been fortunate to have somebody come through for us each game. Somebody has come through for us in the clutch all year long. Itâ€™s been a different person that seems to pick us up each time,â€ Neville said.
Junior Greyson Schram collected two hits on the night. T.J. Chapman and Trent Hovis went 1-for-3 with one RBI apiece.
Seth Alexander (5-1) earned the win. Mitchell Lynch picked up his first save of the season.
East Lincoln, which spent last summer playing with each other as part of the East Lincoln Optimist League, gained valuable experience that has helped them get over the hump.
â€œWeâ€™ve had some close games, but weâ€™ve become a seasoned ball club. Things have gone our way, whether weâ€™ve made the break or just been fortunate to get one. Weâ€™ve found a way to win,â€ Neville said of his team thatâ€™s currently riding a four-game win streak.
The Mustangs will have the extra incentive of it being Senior Night on Tuesday. Then again, when youâ€™re playing for a spot in the 3A State Playoffs, you need no extra incentive.
â€œIt will be a big game. Itâ€™s a senior night and thereâ€™s a lot riding on the game and for the seniors. Hopefully the extra energy will help us out and weâ€™ll be able to come through,â€ Neville said.
East Lincoln 220 000 1â€”5 6 6
Hunter Huss 030 010 xâ€”4 3 2
East Lincoln beat Berry Academy 15-5.
It was a huge night for T.J. Chapman, who went 2-for-3 and hit his fourth homerun of the season. He finished with five RBIs in the game.
Seth Alexander also homered in the win. Nick Harmon also went 2-for-3 with one RBI and two walks.
Chapman, normally a first baseman, also earned the win on the mound. In four innings pitched, he struck out six batters and allowed only one hit.
Logan Taylor pitched two thirds of an inning and had two strikeouts.
Other leading hitters for East Lincoln were: Jesse Guice, who went 1-for-1 with two RBIs and Russell Mahaffey, who went 1-for-1 with two stolen bases.
by John Mark Brooks