Special to LTN
VALE — West Lincoln got out of the gates slow Tuesday night in the second round of the playoffs and the deficit proved insurmountable against an East Davidson team that made few mistakes.
East Davidson scored three two-out runs in the first three innings and shut the door on the Rebels each time it looked like they might make a move, to eliminate West Lincoln in the 2A playoffs, 9-2.
The loss spoiled a rematch with rival East Lincoln, who the Rebels were 1-3 against this season.
“I told the team that 18 wins is not a bad year,” Rebels coach Allan Chapman said. “Second round, obviously we were a little disappointed. We thought we were a little better team than that. I thought we could have at least played in the district championship Friday night if not a little better.”
After winning 12 of their previous 15 games, the Rebels (18-10) struggled coming up with the big hit and preventing hits.
West Lincoln starting pitcher Alec Johnson worked out of a first inning jam without damage and allowed a two-out, run-scoring double in the second inning. But the Golden Eagles (16-9) broke through in the third.
Nathan Campbell made it 2-0 with a bases-loaded single and Hayden Steelman drove in two more with a two-out single to stretch the East Davidson lead to 4-0.
Chandler Jenkins relieved Johnson in the third and allowed another run in the fourth. Dalton Towery prevented another run by throwing out Preston Gammons at the plate – the second runner he’s gunned down at home in the playoffs.
Trailing 5-0 and mustering just a single in its first three at-bats against East Davidson starter Avery Bowles, West Lincoln came to life in the bottom of the fourth. Nick Fisher’s one-out single scored Towery (2 for 4, run) to cut the lead to 5-1. Derrick Braun followed with a single to apparently load the bases, but Fisher (2 for 3, RBI) was caught too far off second and thrown out for the second out. Ethan Bumgarner flied out to deep left to end the inning.
“Ultimately it came down tonight that we just couldn’t get them out,” Chapman said of the Golden Eagles, which tallied 13 hits. “They swung the bats. We had nine hits and had opportunities, but at the end of the day we just didn’t make plays and they did and they got themselves out of a couple of jams. They two-out outhit us to death in that one inning.”
Jenkins pitched well in relief, allowing just one run until the sixth inning when East Davidson’s top hitter, Tyler Stroup, belted a grand slam over the right field fence, giving the Golden Eagles all the breathing room they would need.
West Lincoln left six runners on base in its final four at-bats. Brett Huff had a fifth inning double, while Bumgarner drove home Cameron High (1 for 3, run) with a single in the sixth off reliever Braxton Shetley.
“We couldn’t get the two-out hit, we couldn’t push the big inning across,” Chapman said. “They had two innings where they scored big, crooked numbers – the grand slam obviously and they had another three-run inning. It was an unfortunate time to, not really play bad, but just have bad results.”
The Rebels lose three seniors off this year’s team – second baseman D.J. Dellinger, who had the go-ahead hit in their first-round victory, designated hitter Krishna Rana, who drove in two runs in the first-round game, and third baseman Fisher.
“All of them are great kids, I couldn’t be more proud of them. They’re not necessarily the kids you hear about, not necessarily the ones you’re writing about all the time, but they’re great kids, they’re good leaders, they come out and do what they’re supposed to do,” Chapman said.