CHERRYVILLE — Union County avoided a three-game sweep in the second round of the American Legion Area IV playoffs with a 5-3 defeat of Cherryville Post 100 on Thursday.
Cherryville opened the series with a 6-3 victory in 10 innings on Sunday and then hammered the Union County pitching staff in an 18-1 rout on Wednesday for a 2-0 lead in the series.
Union County right-hander Steven Blythe held Post 100 to seven hits on Thursday, the first coming in the bottom of the second inning on a two-out single to right field by Chandler Jenkins.
Union County took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second, and added another run on Hunter Hiers’ one-out solo home run to left field in the top of the fourth.
Cherryville got on the board in the bottom half of the fourth inning. Josh Beam was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning, and was brought home by Brandon Alexander’s two-out RBI-single to centerfield to cut Union County’s lead to 2-1.
Post 100 then tied the game at 2-2 in the bottom of the fifth. Dylan Hastings led off the inning with a double that hugged the third-base line. Luke Kiser hit a one-out RBI-single up the middle of the field to tie the game.
Union County added three runs in the top of the eighth to cement its lead. Jacob Rand led off the inning by drawing a walk and Will Ray reached first base on an infield error. Cherryville starter Seth Weekley struck out Ryan Smith for the first out of the inning, but Andrew Knight then loaded the bases with a bunt.
Union County’s first two runs of the inning crossed home plate on Ben Peterson’s two-RBI single to right field. One more run scored on J.C. Howze’s sacrifice fly to right field before Weekley struck out Hiers to end the inning.
Cherryville loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the ninth after Ryan Craft reached on an error, Kiser drew a walk and Thomas Bess singled to left field, prompting the Union County coaching staff to relieve Blythe with left-hander Jordan Newsome.
Tyler Shumaker, as the first batter Newsome faced, hit a grounder to short stop for an out and an RBI and Brett Huff grounded out to second base to end the game.
Weekley finished the night with nine strikeouts, seven hits, two walks, four earned runs and the loss.
Cherryville faces Union County in Game 4 at 7 p.m. today at Wingate University.