Special to LTN
LINCOLNTON â€” Addison Parrish had seen good pitches Wednesday night against Lincolnton.
But the East Lincoln cleanup hitter had nothing to show for his three at-bats and was hoping for just one more opportunity when he stepped to the plate in the top of the seventh inning with runners on second and third and the Mustangs trailing by one run.
He got it. Parrish muscled a pitch just beyond the reach of Lincolnton shortstop Jacob Hoover, scoring the tying and go-ahead runs as East Lincoln rallied for a 5-4 victory.
â€œI was looking for the first fastball down the middle,â€ said Parrish, who had lined into a fielderâ€™s choice, struck out and was robbed of extra bases on a line drive to center in his three previous plate appearances. â€œI wanted to turn on something and try and get it to the outfield and get those two runs in.â€
It was the fifth straight win for the Mustangs, but one they had to fight to the final out to get. Lincolnton led 3-1 after four innings and 4-3 entering the seventh before the Mustangs prevailed in the Southern Piedmont matchup.
â€œWe put ourselves in a lot of bad situations, but Lincolnton played a heck of a ballgame,â€ East Lincoln head coach Chris Matile said. â€œIâ€™m glad we ended up with the win. Itâ€™s one of those games you feel bad for them also because they played a heck of a ballgame.â€
For Lincolnton, it started with pitcher Austin Harris. The right-hander gave up three runs on six hits in 5 2/3 innings and kept the Mustangs at bay by mixing speeds and relying on his defense.
After the Mustangs took a 1-0 lead on a Jake Helmsâ€™ sacrifice fly in the third, the Wolves struck in the fourth.
East Lincoln starter David Keener was pulled after walking Zach Wellsâ€”his sixth of the nightâ€”to lead off the inning. Hoover greeted Danny Sullivan with a single. Jalen Angle then put down a sacrifice bunt, but catcher Charlie Gossâ€™s throw to first got away and rolled all the way into the right field corner. Wells and Hoover scored and Angle reached third. Austin Duncanâ€™s hit drove home Angle to make it 3-1.
The Mustangs tied it in the fifth when Ethan Jones scored from second on a bang-bang play at the plate on Helmsâ€™ infield single. Helms then stole second and Goss singled him home to tie the game.
With one out in the bottom of the sixth, Hoover singled and Duncan followed with a line drive to the fence in the left field corner. Helmsâ€™ relay throw to the plate beat Hoover, but Hooverâ€™s dive to the the plate somehow got under a lunging Goss to give the Wolves a 4-3 advantage.
That set the stage for the Mustangsâ€™ final rally. After J.T. Bowden got the first out, Helms singled and Goss walked. They moved up a base before Parrishâ€™s game-winning hit.
â€œAnytime you can get thereâ€”weâ€™re 4-0 in conferenceâ€”weâ€™re happy about that,â€ Matile said of picking up the conference victory.
Sullivan earned the win for East Lincoln, pitching three innings in relief, striking out four, giving up four hits and three runs. Darin Salter pitched a perfect seventh for the save.
Helms led the Mustangs attack, going 2 for 3 with two runs and a pair of stolen bases. Sullivan and Cam Carter also had a pair of hits.
Hoover was 2 for 3 for the Wolves with two runs and Duncan went 2 for 4 with two RBIs.