Special to LTN
DENVER â€” The East Lincoln Mustangs (4-2, 2-0 SPC) baseball team got off to a slow start on a foggy Tuesday night at â€œThe Corralâ€ in Denver, but charged to 7-2 victory over the North Lincoln Knights (1-6; 1-1 SPC).
North Lincoln tagged Mustangs southpaw David Keener for one run in the top of the first when Zach Wallace plated Jake Cochrane from second on a singled laced up the middle of the diamond. Joey Royko followed with another single up the middle but the Knights couldnâ€™t put any more on the board in the inning.
North Lincoln sent senior hurler Jake Cochrane to the mound in the bottom half of the first. Cochrane quickly established his two pitches, a hard fastball that he blew by Mustang hitters and a curveball that was nowhere close to the plate until the final moment.
Cochrane recorded two strikeouts, both looking, in the first as a he retired the Mustangs in order.
Keener settled in the second, retiring the Knights in order, which allowed the Mustangs to tie the game in the bottom half.
Addison Parrish led off the second for the Mustangs with a sharp groundball. Parrish made his way to third by way of a stolen base and a passed ball. Cochrane struck out the next two batters but the North Lincoln defense bobbled a groundball that could have ended the inning, but in turn allowed Parrish to score the equalizer.
As the fog rolled into the outfield at â€œThe Corralâ€ the Mustang bats began to heat up. East Lincoln scored three runs in third inning on four hits; highlighted with extra base knocks from Clay Hodges, Parrish, and Darin Salter, to jump ahead to 4-1 lead.Â Cochrane struck out Cam Carter to stop the bleeding and keep the Knights within striking distance.
Keener returned to the mound in the fourth but walked the first two batters of the inning. East Lincoln quickly replaced Keener with Salter.
Zac Wallace was the first to face Salter, and blasted a groundball through the left side of the infield. As North Lincoln head coach Jon Carpenter was waving the runner from second, Mustang left fielder Tyler Rhodes came up throwing to nail the pinch runner at the plateÂ securing the 4-1 advantage. Jacob Osenbaugh roped a single into right to load the bases for the Knights, but Salter crushed the rally by striking out David Matousek to end the inning.
In the fifth Royko took the bump for the Knights in relief of Cochrane, who gave up six hits, three earned runs and struck out nine. East Lincolnâ€™s Jake Helms led off the inning with an infield single to third and scored on a Charlie Goss double down the left field line that disappeared into the fog leaving the crowd in suspense.Â Goss then scored on a Salter single into left. The Mustangs scored three runs total in the inning to extend their lead to 6-1.
Salter struck out the side in the sixth.
East Lincoln added one more insurance run in the seventh for Salter who allowed his only run in the final frame but kept the Knights at bay to earn the 7-2 victory for the Mustangs.
Salter finished with five strikeouts in four innings and only allowed one run to cross the plate for North Lincoln.
Hodges led the offensive attack for the Mustangs with three hits, an RBI and scoring once.
Cochrane and Royko had two hits apiece for the Knights.
Both teams return to action on Friday as North Lincoln hosts West Lincoln and East Lincoln travels to Highland Tech.