PUMPKIN CENTER — For the first four innings Wednesday night, everything looked good for Lincoln County Post 455.
Better than good, things were near perfect.
Lincoln County scored six two-out runs in the first inning and starting pitcher Hayden Deal was making it stick, holding rival Cherryville Post 100 to a single run on a single hit through four innings.
But just like that, Cherryville struck for seven unearned runs in the fifth inning and held on for a 9-7 victory.
“We started off with a bang and then their pitching settled in and they had a lot of contact in the fifth,” Lincoln County coach Bruce Bolick said.
Deal, a left-hander from Bandys, set down 10 consecutive batters after Cherryville took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first. Through four innings he allowed just one hit, faced 14 batters and threw just 39 pitches.
But things unraveled in the fifth. With one out and a runner on second, Lincoln County second baseman Jacob Hoover was handcuffed by an in-between hop, allowing one run to score. After Deal got the second out on a comebacker to the mound, Cherryville rattled off three consecutive hits and Deal hit a batter. Ryan Craft then singled home the tying run and the go-ahead run scored when Addison Parrish’s relay throw to the plate reached the backstop.
“Basically we were just trying to get one at a time,” said Post 100’s Brett Huff, the West Lincoln standout who went 2-for-4 and knocked in and scored a run in the sixth inning. “We got six that one inning and we were just stringing together hit after hit. They helped us out some, but basically we just scrapped.”
At the same time, the Lincoln County bats went cold after the first inning outburst when seven consecutive batters reached base off Cherryville starter Cameron High. David Scoggins and Danny Sullivan had the big hits in that inning with a pair of two-run doubles.
High settled down and kept Lincoln County off the board the next two innings before giving way to Josh Beam. Beam allowed one run on four hits in the next 3 2/3 innings to pick up the win and Craft got the final out with runners on first and second for the save.
Despite the loss, Bolick wasn’t discouraged by his team’s performance in the non-conference matchup.
“(Deal) had a couple of groundballs that got through — they just started making contact in the fifth inning,” said Bolick, whose team fell to 1-6. “Hayden pretty well had them under wraps the first four, but like I said, they started making contact. That was the biggest thing and that’s about all you can say.”
The win bumped Cherryville to 2-0.
“We’re feeling confident — really confident,” Huff said. “We’re hitting the ball well and playing good defense these first few games.”
For Lincoln County, Hoover had a hit and scored two runs, while Randal Ortiz was 3-for-4 with a run and RBI.
For Post 100, Tyler Shumaker had a two-run double and drove in three runs, while Craft was 2-for-4 with two RBIs.