By RYAN HERMAN
Joe Goodson epitomizes Lincolnton High’s baseball team. The senior had yet to get a hit this season for a team that had yet to earn a victory.
That all changed Thursday with one swing.
Goodson’s first hit of 2014 was a walk-off for his team’s first win, and the Wolves rallied to down visiting Bandys, 6-5.
The first baseman ripped an 0-1 fastball just past a diving Seth Hartings at shortstop that scored Matt Lenox. The double capped a three-run rally for a team that had been lacking in confidence, both at the plate and having what it takes to win.
“This will boost our confidence. That’s been our main factor for four or five years, is confidence, and that’s why we’ve been losing almost every game,” Goodson said. “So, hopefully, a win like this will get us somewhere, get us some hits and win ballgames.”
The Wolves (1-4, 1-2 Southern District 7 Athletic 2A) trailed 5-3 entering the home-half of the seventh, and J.T. Bowden got things going with a lead-off single to right.
Dylan Wambold retired Brad Franklin on a flyout, then Jordon Easter sent a ball to the fence in left for a two-base hit to set things up for Lenox.
Lenox, pinch-hitting for Curtis Fisher, sent a chopper to second baseman Michael Doub. Doub misplayed it, and allowed the tying run to score.
Wambold retired Quinlan Turner looking, then threw a first-pitch strike to a batter that hadn’t had a hit since he was a junior.
Goodson shook off his past, and came through.
“Last year, I was hitting the ball great. That was my junior year. Now it’s my senior year, and I’ve been in a slump. I don’t know what it is,” Goodson said. “The coaches are always telling me to keep by head on the ball and put it somewhere. That’s what was on my mind, and that’s what I did.”
Thursday’s game, a make-up from Tuesday’s rainout, began much like Lincolnton’s previous two –– with a strikeout.
The Wolves had been plagued by the strikeout of late, having 32 retired in their last 14 innings either swinging or looking heading in, and that trend continued against Bandys. Lincolnton struck out four times in the first two innings Thursday, but became a lot more patient as the game went on.
A trio of Trojans pitchers combined to walk nine batters, and Lincolnton scored its first two runs in the third without the benefit of a hit. Easter drew a walk with the bases loaded, and Fisher scored J.T. Bowden on an RBI groundout that cut the Trojans’ lead to 3-2.
The Wolves didn’t get their first hit until Bowden began the bottom of the fifth with a single, and scored a batter later on Franklin’s RBI double to the gap in left.
Bandys (1-5, 0-3) broke the 3-3 tie with two runs in the sixth on Cody Lutz’s two-out, two-run, full-count infield single. But when Lincolnton desperately needed a hit, Goodson came through.
Bowden went 2-for-3 and scored three runs, and Franklin went 1-for-2 and was one of three Wolves batters with two walks.
“The kids come through. … We’ve all been struggling,” Lincolnton coach Cole Sigmon said. “Just winning a ballgame is going to help them tremendously.”
Adam Campbell came on in relief in the fourth for Lincolnton and settled things down a bit in what turned out to be a shaky night to be a pitcher.
Campbell, a right-hander, retired the first six he faced, and sat down the Trojans in order on four pitches in the seventh for the win. He gave up two runs on two hits and walked two –– all in the sixth –– and added a pair of strikeouts.
Campbell’s predecessor, Dayton Pfenning, struck out four and worked his way out of a bases-loaded situation unscathed in the second, but was plagued by three walks and two hit batters and was pulled for Campbell in the fourth.
Bandys starter Tanner Sponhouse also went three innings, giving up six walks. Franklin’s RBI double in the fifth was the end of Matt Bailey’s night.
Wambold entered and retired the first five he faced and six of the first seven, but couldn’t get through the seventh with a two-run lead.
“Tonight, I thought we walked more than we had been. I was a little bit disappointed in the way we pitched tonight, but we were able to come over top of it and get a win in the seventh, which feels good,” Sigmon said.
“We’ll take it.”
Notes: The win was the first for Lincolnton since beating North Lincoln 5-1 on April 20, 2013. … The six runs were the most it had scored since scoring seven in a 9-7 loss at Lake Norman Charter on April 12 of last year. … The Wolves travel to Bunker Hill today looking for its first win streak since April 26 and 30 of last year. … Both teams had five hits Thursday. No one had more than one for Bandys.