To begin the season East Lincoln senior Greyson Schram felt like he was putting too much pressure on himself.
He believed he couldâ€™ve been faring much better for the Mustangs, but his college decision was weighing heavily on his mind.
After deciding on Concord University, Schramâ€™s mind can re-focus on fastballsâ€¦like the one he took over the left-field fence in an exciting 9-8 victory over Lincolnton Tuesday night.
With the score deadlocked at 5, Schram stroked a two-run homer, giving the visiting Mustangs a 7-5 lead over the feisty Wolves.
â€œItâ€™s about time. Thatâ€™s all I got to say. Itâ€™s about time Iâ€™m hitting the ball,â€ he said. â€œI got a lot of pressure off me about colleges, so thatâ€™s helping me out a lot. I knew when it came off the bat. Coach was yelling at me to run and I just started jogging because I knew when it went off,â€ he added.
Following back-to-back walks to Jesse Cadenhead and T.J. Chapman, Mitchell Lynch, who suffered a painful no-decision on the mound, got some redemption by adding two more runs to the Mustangs advantage courtesy of a two-RBI single to center.
Playing East Lincoln tic-for-tac the whole night, the Wolves refused to go quietly into the cold March night.
Brandon Locklin struck out, but a passed ball allowed him to reach with one out. Junior designated hitter Caleb Lail walked bringing up Nate Wright, who laced a RBI-double to left, whittling the Mustangs lead to 9-6.
With Matt Huss reaching on an error, Lail scored and cut the lead to just two at 9-7. The table was set, with men on second and third, for sophomore Demery Brewer, who crushed a liner to centerfield.
What looked to be a go-ahead heroic hit, landed in the centerfielderâ€™s glove and had to settle for a sac.-fly RBI, bringing the winning run to the plate.
However, sophomore Jesse Guice refused to be denied as he struck out the final batter and brought to an end a ballgame that lasted over three hours long.
Jake Black had given the Mustangs a 5-4 edge with a two-RBI liner up the heart of the Wolvesâ€™ defense, but Lincolntonâ€™s Tyler Howard scored via three consecutive wild pitches to send the game into extra innings.
Lincolnton trailed 2-1 in the bottom of the fourth, but Brad Goodson tied the game after doubling, then Jon Kuster gave the Wolves their first lead (3-2) of the contest with a rope into left-field.
In the top of the sixth, pinch-hitter Kevin Wiles found the gap in left-center and deadlocked the game 3-3 as Clint Hyde scored for East. A walk, with the bases loaded, in the bottom half of the inning scored Howard to give the home team a 4-3 lead.
Jesse Cadenhead recorded the win for the Mustangs and Guice notched the save. Lynch pitched six innings, struck out 12 batters and allowed BLANK hits in the no-decision.
â€œIt was a pretty big win. Everybody was underestimating that team and theyâ€™re better than everybody gives them credit for,â€ Lynch said. â€œThis puts us on a winning streak. It gives us a little bit of confidence, but we just got to keep rolling,â€ he added.
Wolves head coach Cole Sigmon is pleased with how his team has played the past three games, although Lincolnton has lost two heartbreakers to two county rivals in that stretch.
â€œTheir effort is there, their play is there and you have to get over that hump where it takes little things to win those close ballgames and we will. Weâ€™ll get there,â€ he said. â€œKids are going to make plays against you. Theyâ€™re going to hit the ball and youâ€™re going to catch it and throw it and theyâ€™re going to catch it and throw it. Sometimes you just come up on the short end,â€ he added.
Mustangs head coach Chris Matile was pleased to escape with the hard-fought win.
â€œIt was back and forth the whole way. They played tough, we played tough and both teams kept getting after it. We made some mistakes, they made some mistakes and both teams took advantage of those mistakes. Thatâ€™s what baseball is all about,â€ he said.
East Committed five errors on the night as part of a shoddy defensive effort, while Lincolnton committed just two.
â€œThere are going to be errors and who takes advantage of them is going to come out on top and both teams did tonight, so we had a tight ballgame the whole way,â€ Matile added.
by John Mark Brooks