DALLAS â€” The West Lincoln Rebels touched off baseball season with a 6-1 loss against the North Gaston Wildcats on Monday, the first game of a five-game stretch on the road.
The Wildcats posted three runs in both the second and fifth innings, while its three-man pitching rotation held the Rebels to four hits and one run, scored in the top of the sixth inning.
West Lincoln pitcher Cameron High threw six strikeouts before being pulled after his second walk in the bottom of the fifth. The Rebel defense looked strong at time during the game, with nearly every fielder making a play at some point, but mistakes that led to four errors proved to be costly.
â€œItâ€™s the same thing that plagued us through all of our scrimmages, weâ€™re just not very good defensively,â€ West Lincoln head coach Alan Chapman said. â€œWe threw strikes and tried to get ahead, but we just canâ€™t afford to get behind. I thought Cameron threw well. If we make a play on a bunt or make a play at the end of an inning, it could change the whole outcome of a game.â€
Krishna Rana was the first Rebel to make it to first base after a walk in the top of the second. Catcher Derrick Braun hit a high fly ball on his first pitch that was caught by centerfielder and Zack Smith was struck out with four pitches to end the inning.
North Gaston got its first hit of the game when Garrett Lowery, the first batter in the top of the second inning, hit a groundball up the middle for a single. The Wildcats sought to move Lowery into scoring position quickly, and Andrew Ray was able to make a double out of a bunt down the third-base line when Rebel third baseman Nick Fisher overthrew Rana at first base.
Jared Wallace hit a hard single to the gap between first and second to bring Lowery home and get the Wildcats on the board 1-0.
After fouling off two pitches, Brandon Bridgesâ€™ hit bounced down the third baseline and barely over Fisherâ€™s outstretched glove to bring the second North Gaston runner across the plate. Rana chased down a bunt from then next batter and threw him out at first as second baseman Grayson Carroll covered the bag to get the Rebels their first out of the inning.
High caught North Gastonâ€™s Courtland Dodd looking with a fastball and fielded a bunt by Nate Potter which he threw to first to end the inning, but not before an RBI single by Micah Smith with another overthrow of Rana brought the third run in for North Gaston.
The Rebels got two men on base for the first time in the game during the top of the fourth. Chandler Jenkins hit a single over the Wildcat second basemanâ€™s head, and High hit a double to deep right-center field, but the Rebels were unable to take advantage of the situation and ended the inning with two men left on base.
The Wildcats scored three more runs in the bottom of the fifth. High struck out Dodd to start the inning, but then overthrew Rana on a bunt by Smith. Potter hit a double down the left field line to put North Gaston runners on second and third, and a walk to Mason Smith loaded the bases. Two runners scored after a pass ball and an overthrow from Braun to High at the plate. After High walked that batter, D.J. Dellinger was brought in to finish out the game on the mound for the Rebels.
The Wildcats hit a sacrifice single off of Dellinger to make the score 6-0 and Jenkins fielded a fly ball in right field to end the inning.
Brett Huff was walked onto base for the Rebels in the top of the sixth. Dalton Towery hit a line drive up the middle of the field for a double and Jenkins hit a ground ball to short stop to bring Huff across home plate for West Lincolnâ€™s lone run of the game.
Chapman said his team was going to have to work to get into shape before the start of conference play.
â€œItâ€™s just going to take a little bit of work, a little bit of effort on the playerâ€™s part,â€ he said. â€œThereâ€™s going to be some long nights between now and the start of conference play. Weâ€™ll get after it, weâ€™ll get back to work and weâ€™ll see what happens. Weâ€™re going to have to rely on our pitchers for now, and thereâ€™s going to be a lot of pressure on them.â€
The Rebels travel to Lenoir to take on the 3A Hibriten Panthers at 4:30 p.m. today