Special to LTN
MOUNT HOLLY — With about 10 or 15 more feet, the Lincoln County Cardinals might have been looking at a much different outcome Sunday night.
Clay Hodges flew out to the right-field fence with the bases loaded to end the Cardinals’ second inning, Danny Sullivan lined out to the fence in left field with the bases loaded to end the fifth and Jacob Hoover flew out to the fence in left with two runners on to end the sixth.
“Smaller park, it might have been better,” Cardinals coach Bruce Bolick said after his team’s 10-3 loss to the Gaston Braves in American Legion baseball.
For the Cardinals, it was part being worn down from games on three consecutive hot nights as well as a depleted pitching staff.
The Cardinals outhit the Braves, 10-7, but four Lincoln County pitchers combined to walk 12 batters and hit another two with pitches. Seven of those baserunners scored runs.
“It’s our third night, we’re just short on pitching,” Bolick explained. “We’ve got some injuries on the pitching staff and being the third night — we brought in our shortstop (Randall Ortiz). He hasn’t pitched before, but we had to put somebody out there. A couple other pitchers are injured so we were really down to the nitty gritty.”
Lincoln County (1-6), coming off a 10-0 loss to Mint Hill on Saturday and a 4-1 win against Kings Mountain on Friday, struck first against Gaston pitcher Bradley Edwards. Addison Parrish singled and came around to score when Ortiz was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to give the Cardinals a 1-0 lead in the second. Lincoln County made it 3-0 in the fourth as Clayton Dellinger doubled home Jake Cochrane and scored on an Ortiz single.
The Braves (2-0) began chipping away at the lead from there. Lincoln County starter David Scoggins took the loss, allowing four runs on four hits. The left-hander struck out three, but exited in the fifth inning after walking the first two batters in the inning.
“David Scoggins pitched a real good game — one of the best he’s looked,” Bolick said. “But he got his pitch count up so we pulled him. He pitched real well.”
Dylan Thompson, Ortiz and Dellinger combined to go the rest of the way for the Cardinals.
The Braves pulled away with four runs in the sixth inning — three on wild pitches and another on a balk.
“We hit the ball pretty good,” Bolick said. “This is our third night in a row and we’ve got some young players. They’re learning what it takes to play in 90-degree temperature three days in a row. They improved a lot from last night.”
Morgan Rhom earned the win in relief of Edwards for the Braves. He worked 3 2/3 innings and allowed just three hits and Nate Buchanan worked a perfect ninth.
Dellinger went 2-for-2 with two doubles, an RBI and pitched two scoreless innings in relief. Parrish and Sullivan collected a pair of hits apiece for Lincoln County and Ortiz drove home two runs.
Lincoln County catcher Zac Reeder left the game in the fourth inning after being hit in the back of the helmet on the back swing of Gaston’s Mykel Davis. Reeder left the field shortly after the incident and Bolick thinks he has a concussion and could be sidelined for an indefinite time.