PUMPKIN CENTER â€” Dalton Towery reached first base for West Lincolnâ€™s varsity baseball team on a dropped third strike in the top of the first inning of the Rebelsâ€™ Southern Piedmont Conference contest with the North Lincoln Knights (1-7, 1-2 SPC) on Friday.
That was the first of several errors the Rebels (4-5, 3-0 SPC) capitalized on throughout the game, and led to starting pitcher Cameron Highâ€™s sacrifice bunt to give West Lincoln an early 1-0 lead.
â€œI thought we swung the bats pretty well,â€ West Lincoln head coach Allan Chapman said. â€œWe executed some situational plays like sacrifice bunts and hit-and-runs and manufactured some runs well. Offensively we did well against a very good pitcher.â€
The Knights knotted the game at 1-1 in the bottom of the first after North Lincoln starting pitcher Justin Norten took the second pitch High threw to him to right field for a double, Bryan Seymour hit a sacrifice bunt down the first baseline to move Norten to third and Jake Cochrane smacked a ground ball up the middle for an RBI.
Both teamsâ€™ offenses were quiet in the second inning as Norten struck out two batters and West Lincoln leadoff batter Brett Huff hit into a groundout to end the top of the first. Matt Mullin hit a ground ball back to High for the first out of the bottom of the first, and the Rebels executed a double play to end the inning.
West Lincoln exploded for five runs in the top of the third, and effectively put the game out of the Knightsâ€™ reach.
Towery started off the inning by taking the first pitch deep to right field for a double, and was brought home by Highâ€™s RBI double for the Rebelsâ€™ 2-1 lead. With two outs, High crossed home plate as Zach Smith reached first base on a throwing error by the Knights. Norten walked D.J. Dellinger to load the bases, and then walked pinch hitter Grayson Carroll to give the Rebels a 4-1 lead.
Huff hit a two-RBI single to put the Rebels up 6-1 before Chandler Jenkins hit a ground ball to Norten to end the inning.
The Rebels scored their final two runs with one in both the top of the fourth and fifth innings. First baseman Krishna Rana hit an RBI single to left field in the fourth and Jenkins hit an RBI single in the fifth as Huff was called safe in a play at the plate.
The Knights responded, and tagged West Lincoln for four runs in the bottom of the fifth. High walked the bases loaded and, with two outs, catcher Zach Reeder smashed a high and inside fastball deep to centerfield to clear the bases, after which High was relieved by Jenkins.
â€œReeder did a good job getting to that pitch,â€ Chapman said. â€œWe came inside with a fastball, but I think Cameronâ€™s velocity was as high in the inning we took him out of as it was all night. He struggled with the strike zone, maybe more than Iâ€™ve ever seen. Itâ€™s rare for him to walk anyone, let alone seven batters. It was tight.â€
The game began 30 minutes late because of lightning, and was eventually called before the Rebels could take the field in the bottom of the sixth, again for lightning.
â€œThat was a strange game, we were there two and a half hours for a game,â€ Chapman said. â€œCameron got ready and we had to stop; he got ready again and we had to stop again. They were difficult circumstances and Iâ€™m proud of our guys for fighting and battling through all of that and coming out on top.â€