Special to LTN
DENVER — The East Lincoln varsity baseball team’s bats may have been shut down in the first round but the Mustang offense erupted in a 12-2 victory over Shelby in six innings Tuesday night in Denver.
“This wasn’t as exciting of an ending as Friday but I’m excited about the way we played the game,” East Lincoln head coach Chris Matile said following the game. “I couldn’t be happier.”
After five strong innings by Darin Salter and three home runs, East Lincoln (22-4) will face East Davidson Friday night in the third round of the 2A state playoffs.
Shelby (14-9) scored first in the third inning after a Thomas Weaver single, a wild pitch and an error by Salter. The Golden Lions however, wouldn’t record another hit until the sixth inning.
The Mustangs had a loud answer for the Shelby run in the bottom half of the third. East Lincoln ended the inning with a 5-1 lead, due in large part to back-to-back homers from Charlie Goss and Addison Parrish. Goss’s homer was a two-run blast over the left field fence and Parrish followed with a solo shot in nearly the same place.
The Mustangs charged for another big inning in the fifth. Cory Peterson sparked the rally with a leadoff double down the left field line. A walk to Jake Helms and two wild pitches later, Peterson scored the Mustangs’ sixth run. Parrish drove in his second run of the day with a single into center that plated Helms. Danny Sullivan brought the lumber to the dish after Parrish and crushed a Chandler Young offering over the fence in left-center field to extend the lead to 9-1.
“We’ve always talked about hitting the pitcher’s mistakes and I think we did a great job of that tonight,” Matile said about his Mustangs’ power surge.
Shelby had a chance to rally in the sixth on a couple of different occasions, but only managed to bring one runner across home plate.
East Lincoln delivered the final blows in the sixth inning. Zach Rust led off with a base-hit and later scored on a sacrifice fly by Tyler Rhodes. Chris Collichio, the hero from the Mustangs’ first-round victory over South Iredell, scored the eleventh run on a Jake Helms single that saw Hodges gunned out at home to save the game for the Golden Lions. However, a single from Goss and a pop-up from Parrish that was mishandled by the Shelby second baseman allowed Helms to score the twelfth and final run for East Lincoln.
Salter, in his first start of the season and second game back after suffering a broken left wrist in the Shelby Easter Tournament, earned the victory pitching five innings, allowing two hits, one unearned run and striking out five.
“I think he did a great job and kept us in the ballgame. He got himself in some tight spots but he kept on delivering,” Matile said of his starting pitcher.
East Lincoln got two hits and two RBIs apiece from both Goss and Parrish.
Shelby handed East Lincoln one of their four loses earlier in the season during the Shelby Easter Tournament.
“When you only have four loses on the season and that team is one of them it definitely feels good to get this win,” said Matile. “Even the kids were talking about it so we knew.”