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North reaches title game

The North Lincoln Knights advanced to the championship game of the Southern Foothills’ Conference Tournament with a 7-2 victory over Hendersonville.
The lightning that forced a continuation to Wednesday didn’t slow down junior pitcher Alex Loftin.
Loftin (4-2) threw a complete game, struck out five batters and walked only one to earn the victory. Both Bearcats’ runs were unearned.
“I was just trying to throw strikes, keep the ball down and do the best I could. I had faith in my teammates behind me and just tried to make them hit the ball and put it in play,” the right-hander said.
“I can’t say enough about Alex and his performance. When he gets that bunt down it’s deadly,” Knights’ head coach Sean Andrews said.
Loftin also led the Knights at the plate going 2-for-4 with a RBI. Michael Gibson, Josh Belk, Trent Hopkins and Jeremy Grove each had a run batted in.
Brett Kasischke was the only Bearcat that had multiple hits. He went 2-for-3. Josh Miller suffered the loss.
With Hendersonville threatening to rally, Gibson, the Knights’ left fielder gunned Miller at third in the top of the sixth with the score 6-2.
Hopkins, who led the team in hitting with a .431 batting average, was excited by the opportunity of playing for a conference tournament championship.
“It’s going to be awesome, especially in my second year. Lord willing, we’re going to be able to win it, but second place that’s not bad. State playoffs the first time ever, hopefully we can go in there and do some damage,” he said.
Andrews was pleased with how his team responded, despite having to play two days to finish off their second-round opponent.
“We came out ready to go. We wanted to get the job done yesterday, but we decided to wait one more day and finish it up,” he said.
Andrews turned out to be prophet when he spoke of how hard it was going to be to beat Cherryville with a 1A State Playoff berth on the line for the Ironmen.
“We’re going into it with the expectation of winning, but I know they’re going to come with everything they’ve got because if they win they’re in the playoffs. And I can’t remember the last time they weren’t in the playoffs,” he said.

Bearcats 100 001 0—2 6 1
North Lincoln 150 001 x—7 8 3

by John Mark Brooks

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