ASHEVILLE–Cherryville was three outs away from taking a commanding 2-0 lead over Asheville in the opening round of the Area Four Legion playoffs.
But Post 100 could not close the deal in the bottom of the ninth inning, and now the best-of-five series goes back to Cherryville tonight tied 1-1.
Asheville (9-12) scored three runs in its last at-bat to rally for a 6-5 win Sunday night at A.C. Reynolds High School.
Cort Radford`s bases-loaded, one-out single scored Bradley Roland with the winning run to cap a rally from a 5-3 deficit. Radford drove a 1-2 pitch from Chris Cook into right field to end the game on a sour note for Cherryville, which won game one Saturday at home 12-1 in seven innings.
Cook, Post 100`s late-inning relief specialist, gave up four hits in the final inning and also uncorked a wild pitch. Cherryville`s defense also unraveled as an outfield error and a passed ball aided Asheville in its ninth-inning comeback.
Cherryville (18-9) took a 4-3 lead into the ninth and got an insurance run on Dylan Anthony`s lead-off homer over the center field fence at the 380-foot mark.
However, Asheville got the lead-off hitter on base in its half of the ninth on a bunt single by Clay Roland. One out later, Blair Wells singled to center to drive in Roland, and Bradley Roland followed with a hit to right to drive in the tying run.
Bradley Roland`s hit was misplayed in the outfield and he was safe at second on a close relay throw that was contested to no avail by Post 100 coach Bobby Reynolds.
After Cook walked Blaine Howell, Robert Kisiah was walked intentionally to set up the force play at any base with one out.
However, that strategy went awry when Radford, the No. 8 hitter in the Asheville lineup, drilled a solid hit to right to complete the rally.
Cook gave up six hits in two and two-third innings and took the loss. Post 70 starter Eric Stewart, who pitched for Blue Ridge Community College last spring, went the distance despite giving up 14 hits.
Post 100 starter Steven Justice left the game in the seventh with the score tied at 2-2. In one of his sharper outings of the season, Justice gave up six hits in six and one-third innings, struck out three and walked two.
Anthony, Paul Finger and Daniel Scronce had three hits each for Post 100, which stranded nine runners for the game and left the bases loaded in the fifth.
For Asheville, Clay Roland went 3-for-5 with a pair of doubles.
Left-hander Howell, considered the ace of the Asheville staff, is expected start tonight in game three at Fraley Field. Ryan Rhodes (3-1, 2.42 ERA) is the projected starter for Post 100, but Reynolds could also plug in Kyle Snyder or Daniel Styers.
West Lincolnâ€™s Ryan Rhodes may be Post 100â€™s starter for tonightâ€™s game three versus Asheville at Cherryville. Chris Dean / LTN Photo
The series will return to Asheville Tuesday for game four. A fifth game, if necessary, will be played Wednesday in Cherryville.
In Saturday`s opener, Post 100 jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the third inning and steadily pulled away. Anthony went 2-for-4 and scored three runs, and Scronce was 2-for-3 with two RBI. Steven Hoyle and Finger each contributed two-RBI doubles in a 12-hit attack.
Post 100 starting pitcher Wayne McDonald (5-0) pitched a two-hitter through six complete innings and struck out eight. Styers finished up in the seventh.
Saturday`s game At Cherryville
Ash 000 100 0â€”1 2 3
Ch 004 215 xâ€”12 12 0
Kisiah, Radford (6) and Slagle. McDonald, Styers (7) and Glover.
Sunday`s game At Asheville
Ch 000 110 021â€”5 14 4
Ash 020 000 013â€”6 12 2
Justice, Cook (7) and Glover, Henderson (6). Stewart and Radford.
by Mike Powell