HICKORY — Hickory Post 48 went into Friday’s game against the Lincoln County Cardinals with an impressive 7-0 overall record and a 6-0 record in Area III division play.
The Cardinals shattered that win streak with an 8-7 victory that included a five-run rally in the top of the fourth by the Lincoln County squad.
“That was probably our best game so far, because we closed it out,” Lincoln County head coach Bruce Bolick said. “We’ve been starting games and hitting the ball, then we slack off. But we hit the whole game tonight.”
Lincoln County took a 3-0 lead in the top of the first. Clay Hodges led off the game with a single to left field followed by a pop up to left field by Jacob Hoover for the first out of the game.
Addison Parrish took the first pitch from Hickory right-hander Ben Watson for a called strike, but smashed the second over the left field fence for a 2-0 Lincoln County lead.
Parrish went three-for-five at the plate during the game and drove in an RBI in each of his first three at-bats.
“We’re capable of hitting the ball, we have the bats,” Bolick said. “It was just a matter of holding Hickory back. One of the biggest things we did was we hit line drives; we’ve been hitting a lot of pop-ups lately.”
Third baseman Danny Sullivan followed Parrish’s home run with a single up the middle of the field and came home on a two-out RBI-double by Clayton Dellinger that bounced off of the right-field fence.
Hickory responded with six runs in the bottom of the first, all with two outs, to take a 6-3 lead.
Lincoln County left-hander David Scoggins started the game on the mound and got the first two Hickory batters to ground out in the infield. The third batter in the Hickory lineup, Colton Chapman, reached first base on a dropped third strike, touching off Hickory’s offense.
Chapman scored on a wild pitch to Matt Johnson. Johnson then hit an RBI-double to right field. Hickory third baseman Matt Ward hit an RBI-double that hit the left field fence to tie the game at 3-3, and then scored to give Hickory a 4-3 lead on a wild pitch to Jason Setzer. Ky’Rawn Whitfield hit a two-RBI double before Tyler Pait flew out to Lincoln County centerfielder Clay Hodges to end the inning.
“Sure, we were concerned at that point, but David came back and threw better in his last inning than he did the first three,” Bolick said. “He kept his poise.”
Scoggins finished with two strikeouts and five walks and was relieved in the fifth by Dylan Thompson.
Parrish added another run for the Cardinals, to make the score 6-4 in Hickory’s favor, with a two-out RBI-single to right field in the top of the second.
The Cardinals took back the lead, which they held for the rest of the game, with four runs in the top of the fourth.
Logan Mitchell led off the inning by popping out to the Hickory second baseman, but Thompson followed up with a single to right field. Hodges hit a single up the middle of the field to put runners at the corners, and caused the Hickory coaching staff to relieve Watson with right-hander Nick Guarino.
Hoover added the first Lincoln County run of the rally with an RBI-single to right field, followed by an RBI-single up the middle by Parrish that tied the game 6-6. Jake Cochrane gave the Cardinals the lead with an RBI-double down the left field line off of a curve ball hung up in the strike zone by Guarino.
Sullivan drove in Lincoln County’s eighth run with a single to centerfield.
Hickory came within one run of the Cardinals in the bottom of the seventh inning, but Thompson and the Lincoln County defense sealed the game in the bottom of the ninth.
Chapman ground out to third to start off the bottom of the ninth. Left fielder Cole McGraw drew a walk, but Thompson got the second out when he scooped up Jordan Fulbright’s bunt down the third base line and made the out at first base. Thompson then struck out Matt Ward to end the game.
“Thompson had a terrific night, not only pitching, but defensively,” Bolick said. “That was an almost impossible play on that bunt, with the ball being that close to the foul line.”