By RYAN HERMAN
DENVER –– On the baseball diamond sometimes a team has it, and sometimes it doesn’t.
Wednesday was a case of the latter for Lincoln Charter.
Cherryville belted three home runs, and upped its lead in the Southern Piedmont 1A Conference to two games by downing the Eagles 10-0 in five innings.
Had Lincoln Charter (9-4, 6-2) played the way it’s capable the teams could be tied for first. But the Ironmen (11-3, 8-0) showed up, and the Eagles didn’t.
“Sometimes the guys go out –– you know, they’re kids –– and they just don’t have it,” Lincoln Charter coach Mike Hartshorne said. “That’s a very disciplined (Cherryville) team, and you come out and you don’t have it, they look for those mistakes.
“(The Ironmen) know what to look for, and they’ll take advantage of it.”
Cherryville did all the damage it needed in the first by taking advantage of an erratic Nathaniel Scoggins.
A leadoff walk to Jimmy Johnson set the stage for Alston Mosteller, whose grand slam to straightaway center field was more than enough.
It also came with two outs.
Caleb Narron sacrificed Johnson into scoring position, then Hunter Jackson moved Johnson to third on a groundout. Scoggins then walked Dillon Harris and Jonathan Carpenter to load the bases, and sitting on a fastball, Mosteller put it away with one swing.
Scoggins hit Austin Wilkerson after the homer, then gave up another long ball, this time to Kacee Buff.
Scoggins ended the inning by striking out Tyler Beam, but the 6-0 lead was more than enough for Cherryville.
“He just started out getting behind hitters, and couldn’t find the zone to start,” Hartshorne said of his starter. “We made one mistake with the bases loaded, three walks, and they made us pay for that.”
Capitalizing on other teams’ mistakes is one reason the Ironmen are undefeated in conference play.
“They hurt themselves with the walks, and then we got into one a little bit,” said Cherryville coach Scott Heavner, referring to Mosteller’s grand slam. “It’s good to score first, and put up multiple runs –– those crooked numbers –– they always help. … It was one of those strange games where walks and hit batters, those hurt, but we took advantage.”
Carpenter took the bump for the Ironmen, and after shaking off a bases-loaded jam in the first, improved to 4-1 on the season –– 2-0 against the Eagles.
Matt Stokes doubled with one out in the bottom of the first, and Carpenter walked Scoggins and Zach Hollar to load the bases. But the right-hander bore down and retired both Ian Chryst and Adam Hutson swinging to get out of it unharmed.
Starting with the strikeout of Chryst, Carpenter retired 10 straight before giving up an infield single in the fourth to Barry Cheek, who pitched nicely in relief. By then the Ironmen led 8-0.
Carpenter pitched all five innings, yielding two hits and two walks to go along with 10 strikeouts.
“So far he’s got our number,” Hartshorne said.
Scoggins (3-1) again walked Johnson to start the second, signaling the end of the junior’s afternoon after two homers, four walks and a hit batter in one-plus innings. Cheek took over, and gave up a single to Narron. Jackson hit a soft roller to Scoggins at third, who threw it away and allowed Johnson to score.
Cheek induced a pitcher-friendly 5-4-3 double play, but was followed by an RBI single off the bat of Carpenter for an 8-0 lead.
Cheek, a freshman, faced the minimum in the third and fourth innings, thanks to another double play in the third after hitting Wilkerson to start the frame. But Carpenter all but ended it officially with another two-run home run in the fifth behind a single by Harris.
The loss was the worst for Lincoln Charter this season, and leaves it two games behind Cherryville with four conference games left.
Things don’t get any easier for the Eagles, who host third place Highland Tech (9-4, 5-3) this afternoon.
A win –– the Eagles beat the Rams 4-1 on March 18 –– and they can stretch their hold on second to two games. A loss, and it’s a fight to the finish.
“We were sitting pretty in second, with a shot to take out Cherryville at our home. … The loss,we’ll spin it into a good,” Hartshorne said. “First, second and third place isn’t clear anymore. We’re going to have to earn it. We’re going to have to come out and fight. I’m comfortable, and I think out team’s comfortable, being in that spot.”
Cherryville 620 02––10 7 0
LCS 000 00––0 2 1
Carpenter and Jackson; Scoggins, Cheek (2) and Jones. W––Carpenter. L––Scoggins.