By RYAN HERMAN
SHELBY –– After opening the Shelby FCA Easter Baseball Tournament by shocking Shelby Crest West Lincoln set itself up for a strong finish.
The Rebels ended with a thud.
A day after being 10-run ruled by South Caldwell in the semifinals, West Lincoln was 10-run ruled again on Thursday as it fell 16-2 in six innings to Kings Mountain in the event’s third place game.
The Rebels (8-12-1) surprised even themselves with their 7-6 win over the Chargers in Monday’s opening round, and longtime head coach Allan Chapman figured the win would carry into Wednesday’s semifinals and Thursday’s final day of play.
As the Mountaineers (8-10) received their trophy for finishing third in the eight-team event at Shelby High, Chapman was at a loss for words for what he witnessed against South Caldwell and Kings Mountain.
“I don’t know. I just don’t know,” Chapman said. “I can’t explain it.”
Allowing opponents big innings has been an Achilles’ heel for West Lincoln this season, and against the Spartans –– who finished second after falling 2-1 in the championship to Lawndale Burns –– and Mountaineers those woes returned.
The Rebels gave up eight runs in the fourth inning Wednesday en route to a 12-2, five-inning defeat, and on Thursday Kings Mountain scored nine runs in the sixth, aided by four walks, a hit batter, three wild pitches, three errors, and only four hits.
The Mountaineers sent 13 to the plate in the frame, with Will Wilson getting two singles and scoring a pair of runs, one on a wild pitch and another on an error.
Alex Reynolds had an RBI hit in his second at-bat of the frame, and Landon Bolin singled and later scored on a misplayed ball hit to left field.
Logan Stevens drew a bases-loaded walk, a pair of throwing errors allowed two more runs to score, and when Chandler Jenkins got Alex Grooms to groundout to stop the bleeding, West Lincoln didn’t have much more to play for as its fourth-place fate was already sealed.
“Things just didn’t go our way,” Chapman said.
Kings Mountain jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead after one-half inning of play thanks to an RBI double by Brandon Bell and Daniel Barrett’s run-scoring hit.
Rebels starter Sam High worked around a lead-off walk in the second, and he helped his cause with a single to start the bottom of the inning. He later scored on Jake Bradley’s triple to make it 2-1.
But the errors and mistakes began to pile up in the third.
A dropped fly ball by Jenkins in center field, and a throwing error by Parker Chapman on Bell’s sac fly in foul territory allowed Reynolds to reach and score.
Wilson scored on the sac fly, and Groom’ single led to a run when he tagged up and scored on Stevens’ sac fly to right.
Kings Mountain added two more in the fourth, both on Bell’s double, and just like that the Rebels trailed 7-1.
West Lincoln scratched across a run on Ashton Rana’s bases-loaded fielder’s choice, which scored Cody Dellinger, who started the bottom-half of the fifth with a walk.
Down 7-2 entering the sixth the Rebels still had life, but it was quickly taken when High gave up a lead-off single to Wilson then walked Reynolds. Chapman pulled High and handed the ball to Jenkins, whose first pitch was wild and allowed Wilson, who stole both second and third, to score.
Jenkins walked the first two he faced, Bell and Grooms, to load the bases before striking out Barrett for the first out. He then walked Stevens to push across another run, threw a wild pitch to allow Bell to score, and hit Cameron Bullock to load them up again.
Jenkins fanned Colby Crisp, and consecutive singles by Bolin, Wilson and Reynolds, coupled with the throwing errors by Jenkins and Charles Mack George, effectively ended West Lincoln’s tournament.
High (1-3) allowed nine runs, six earned, on eight hits, walked three, hit one and struck out seven in five-plus innings of work in the loss.
Bolin gave up two runs on six hits and struck out three in the win.
The Rebels –– and Jenkins –– did have a bright spot. The senior headed to Gardner-Webb singled in the first for his 100th career hit, becoming the fifth in school history to reach the historic plateau.
Jenkins, who also singled in the fifth and went 2-for-3, has 101 career hits, and trails 2006 graduate Chris Henderson by one for fourth on the list.
Jenkins is joined by Henderson, Jake Watts (class of 2008, 112 career hits), Jay Heafner (class of 2002, 127 career hits) and Paul Finger (class of 2006, 129 career hits) as the only five in school history to reach the century mark.
Kings Mtn. 203 209––16 12 0
W. Lincoln 010 010––2 6 6
Bolin, Grooms (6) and Crisp; High, Jenkins (6) and Bradley. W––Bolin. L––High.