SHELBY — The Lincoln County Cardinals’ 7-6 loss to Shelby Post 82 in the first round of the American Legion baseball playoffs on Tuesday began and ended in controversy.
Leadoff batter Clay Hodges started the game for the Cardinals with a ground ball to Shelby short stop Dustin Greene, and was called out as first baseman Brock Melton reached out to catch an errant throw. The Lincoln County coaching staff protested the call, and asserted that Melton stepped off of the bag while making the catch.
The game ended in the bottom of the ninth when, with the game tied at 6-6 and with one out and runners at second and third, Shelby’s Alston Bridges laid a bunt down the first base line that was fielded by Lincoln County’s Addison Parrish. Parrish scooped up the ball and made a throw to catcher Zach Reeder, but the home plate umpire called Shelby’s Jay Seagle safe at home to end the game, drawing looks of shock from the Lincoln County players and fans, and sighs of relief from the Shelby side.
The Cardinals took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first after Jacob Hoover drew a walk and was brought home by Parrish’s RBI-single to shallow centerfield with two outs. Shelby responded with Nick Triplett’s solo home run off of the first pitch from Lincoln County left-hander David Scoggins in the bottom of the second. Scoggins then struck out Evan Loaces and relied on his defense for outs against Ryley Smith and Seagle to end the inning.
Hodges led off the top of the third with a scorching triple to centerfield, and was brought home for a 2-1 Lincoln County lead on Hoover’s sacrifice groundout to second base.
The Cardinals extended their lead to 3-1 in the fourth when Danny Sullivan hit a single up the middle to start off the inning, and was brought home on Reeder’s single to right field.
Shelby took the lead in the bottom of the sixth. Triplett hit an RBI-double to left field with one out and Seagle’s RBI-single to right field evened the score at 3-3. Dustin Greene’s sacrifice fly with the bases loaded gave Shelby a 4-3 lead and Cody Fitch made the score 5-3 with an RBI-double to left field.
The Cardinals took a advantage 6-5 in the top of the seventh. Hodges led off the inning with a single, followed by a walk to Hoover and a sacrifice bunt by Jake Cochrane that moved the runners to second and third. Parrish brought home both Hodges and Hoover to tie the game at 5-5 with a single to left field.
Sullivan hit a double that moved Parrish to third. Parrish then crossed home plate on short stop Randal Ortiz’s sacrifice fly to left field for the lead. The Cardinals nearly added another run, but Sullivan was tagged out at home after a single by Scoggins to right field.
Shelby added one run in the sixth, and closed out the game in the ninth with a leadoff single by Triplett, a Lincoln County fielding error and Bridges’ controversial bunt.
Scoggins was relieved by Dylan Thompson during the bottom of the sixth inning, and finished with three strikeouts while giving up five hits and two walks.