DENVER â€” The East Lincoln Mustangs touched off Southern Piedmont Conference play with a resounding 6-1 win over the Lake Norman Charter Knights on Friday.
Although new NCHSAA rules requiring the use of BBCOR bats, like those used at the collegiate level, have limited the number of long balls put into play, East Lincoln centerfielder Clay Hodges hammered two doubles to the center field fence on his way to a 3-4 night at the plate including a leadoff single in the bottom of the first inning.
East Lincoln winning pitcher Addison Parrish threw four strikeouts, and allowed two hits and walked two batters before being relieved by Nick Savoie in the top of the sixth. Lake Norman Charterâ€™s lone run was an unearned one, after designated hitter John Creel reached first base on a dropped third strike, and crossed home two pitches later after a single to center field by right fielder Ben Riggins.
â€œAddison started against South Point, and threw a great game against them, and I feel like he was even better against Lake Norman Charter,â€ East Lincoln head coach Chris Matile said. â€œThatâ€™s our goal, to get better every game, and I was very proud of him.â€
Matile said he wanted his pitchers to lean on the Mustangsâ€™ seasoned defense, which turned two double plays during the game.
â€œWe have a lot of experienced kids in the dirt, and in the outfield, and weâ€™ve told our pitchers all along to throw strikes and let them play defense,â€ Matile said. â€œIn the South Point game, our biggest hindrance was the walk; you canâ€™t walk people and win games. We came in here wanting to throw strikes and play solid defense and the kids did that.â€
Lake Norman Charter pitcher Jake Williams was on the mound nearly the entire game, and was relieved before the last East Lincoln batter. He threw seven strikeouts, but allowed 10 hits and one walk. Williams picked up four of his strikeouts with curveballs.
â€œVery rarely is a high school kid going to hit a curve ball solidly, so if you have a pitcher on the mound that can throw one for a strike youâ€™re probably going to struggle,â€ Matile said. â€œWe tried to sit in there and wait for our pitch, and we put the ball in play and made them play defense and we took advantage of their mistakes.â€
East Lincoln scored its first run in the bottom of the first inning. Hodges reached first on a single to right field, stole second, and crossed home as Parrish bounced a single to third base.
The Mustangs added three more runs in the bottom of the third. Catcher Charlie Goss reached first base on a single to third, followed by a single by Parrish to the gap between short stop and third base. Third baseman Darin Salter reached first and loaded the bases with a perfectly laid bunt down the third base line.
Second baseman Cam Carter executed a squeeze bunt that brought Goss home, and Parrish added another run as Lake Norman Charterâ€™s catcher attempted to throw Carter out at first.
Salter reached home for the final run of the inning when the Knight catcher overthrew second base to try to stop a steal.
East Lincoln short stop Jake Helms brought the final East Lincoln run of the game across home plate with an RBI single to right field in the bottom of the sixth, prompting Lake Norman Charter to relieve Williams from the mound.