With his team up by a lone run, senior Jonathan Thomas slugged a massive two-run homer over the left-field fence and with one swing helped lift the Rebels to their second win in a row in a 9-5 victory over South Iredell.
The home Vikings took a 3-1 lead in the first, but the Rebels cut into the lead 3-2 courtesy of senior Paul Fingerâ€™s RBI-double, which was the 100th hit of his career.
â€œIt was pretty much what we expect out of Paul. Heâ€™s come up with big hits all season. Heâ€™s swinging the bat as well as anybody Iâ€™ve seen in a long time. Itâ€™s just a tribute to how hard heâ€™s worked in the offseason,â€ West Lincoln head coach Allan Chapman said.
Current Davidson star Jay Heafner, and 2002 graduate, holds the Rebels school record for career hits with 127. Chapman did his best to put the century mark in career hits in perspective.
â€œThirty hits in a season is a good season and to think you do that three times you still have to get some at-bats and some hits as a freshman or just have three phenomenal seasons to even have a chance of getting 100 hits in a career,â€ he said.
As for Finger, who humbly accepts any honors that comes his way, heâ€™s just pleased heâ€™s helped his team get back on the winning track.
â€œIt feels good. All of the hard work is paying off. Iâ€™m not going to let it go to my head. Iâ€™m just going to try to help the team. Weâ€™re playing better. It seems like weâ€™re coming together and weâ€™re going to try to win this conference championship,â€ he said. â€œItâ€™s like a dream to have 100 hits,â€ he added.
The Vikings scored to make it 6-5 in the bottom of the sixth. With two outs and Wise on base, with his third hit of the game, Thomas, hit a mammoth two-run homer an inning later.
Senior Chris Henderson (5-1) thew four innings, struck out five and allowed three hits and no walks in earning the victory on the mound.
â€œYou canâ€™t underestimate how valuable he is to our team. Pitching or catching, basically every play, so heâ€™s involved on every pitch in every game. Heâ€™s done a very good job in both roles for us this year,â€ Chapman said. â€œNot to mention, heâ€™s hitting about .380,â€ he added.
West Lincoln scored two, via a throwing error, to take a 4-3 lead in the top of the fourth. Henderson entered in the fourth with the score tied at four in relief of Daniel Smith.
Wise had a two-out RBI single, scoring Tyler High to make it 5-4 in the fifth. Henderson had a RBI-double the following inning to give the Rebels a 6-4 lead.
Michael Wise went 3-for-4 with one RBI to pace the Rebels. Junior Payden Houser went 2-for-5 and scored three runs.
Finger, Korey Martin and Henderson all had one hit apiece.
The win puts West Lincoln at 10-5, 5-3 as they will be back in action versus Newton today on the road.
â€œI think it was important to start the second half off with a win. Itâ€™s momentum going down the stretch and trying to play your best baseball at tournament time,â€ he said.
Despite having dropped two Southern Piedmont games, Chapman believed his team kept a level head.
â€œEven when we lost to Bessemer and Cherryville, there is never a sense of panic or urgency. I think they realize if we catch the baseball, weâ€™re going to have a chance to do well every night,â€ he said.
After facing the Red Devils in non-conference action, the Rebels will turn their focus to county rival East Lincoln in a home game Tuesday.
â€œEast Lincoln is a good baseball team and they still have a shot at winning our league. We have to play well and give it all our attention,â€ Chapman said.
by John Mark Brooks