By RYAN HERMAN
CHERRYVILLE –– Cherryville Post 100’s first hit Friday was a home run by Dillon Harris in the fifth inning, it’s last led to a two-base error and allowed the eventual winning run to score, and nearly everything imaginable happened in between as Cherryville knocked off division foe and longtime rival Caldwell Post 29, 4-3.
The win was the third in what is now a five-game win streak for Post 100, which routed Burke County Post 21 19-0 on Saturday and Henderson County Post 77 12-2 on Sunday, both by the mercy rule.
With a lineup constantly in flux Friday’s win was anything but easy.
And anything but normal.
“There was a little bit of everything,” said Post 100 manager Bobby Dale Reynolds, whose team beat Caldwell County for the fourth straight time. “We’re playing some different lineups, and trying to give some kids some shots. We haven’t really sunk in to where when they come to the park, four or five of them don’t know if they’re playing or not. But, that’s also a good thing for the quality of your team. Lots of teams know they’ve got 12 players, and the other six, there’s a big separation.”
There was virtually no separation between Post 100 and Caldwell County.
Post 29 (7-3, 3-3) held a 3-1 lead after 4 1/2 innings, which in itself was something of a statistical anomaly.
The teams combined for 14 baserunners on a single hit heading into the fifth. Caldwell County had nine reach base thanks to six walks, an error, a fielder’s choice and a single by Trent Wakefield that was erased due to a double play. It scored in the opening frame on a sac fly in foul territory by Taylor Powell, and went up 2-1 on a sac fly to left by Mason Biddix in the fourth.
Cherryville (9-2, 5-1) had five reach base in the first four innings –– two by errors, one a hit-by-pitch, one a walk and the last on catcher’s interference. A pair of double plays did Post 100 in, and Josh Beam was thrown out trying to steal second in the third.
Post 100’s A.J. Cook reached on an error in the second, then later scored on Cody Dellinger’s chopper back to the pitcher, who threw it into the dugout on the putout attempt.
Caldwell County went up 3-1 in the top of the fifth on Dylan Hamel’s double, and in the bottom half of the frame Harris’ homer to left started a streak of three straight hits –– a triple short of the single half-inning cycle –– for Post 100 as it cut it to 3-2.
The collection of hits turned into seven across the final four innings, but Cherryville, along with Caldwell County, couldn’t punch through.
Left-hander Austin Miller struck out the side in the fifth after the string of hits, and Cherryville again hurt itself by grounding into double plays in the sixth and seventh innings.
Post 100 tied it at 3 in the sixth when Chandler Jenkins, who led off with a single, stole home on a well-executed double steal between he and Harris, who was hit by a pitch. In the seventh it loaded the bases with one out, but Caldwell County again got out of it unhurt when Cook ground into a 5-3 double play.
As if the first seven innings hadn’t been strange enough between the two rivals, things got even crazier in the eighth.
With Brett Macchia at first after a single, Biddix roped a one-out double to center field as outfielders Brett Huff and Beam gave chase. As Biddix rounded first the ball rolled to the fence, and both outfielders bent down to locate the ball. Within seconds both Huff and Beam stood up and raised both arms to signal to the umpires that the ball had rolled underneath the fence and was not retrievable, which, upon umpire verification and by rule, is a ground-rule double. The umpire on the bases didn’t appear to see the outfielders at first, and the runners kept going as Macchia crossed home plate just ahead of Biddix.
The field umpire ran out to center field to have a look then ran back, and after conferring with the home plate umpire, the play was ruled a ground-rule double. By rule, the run was waived off, Biddix was forced to go back to second while Macchia was placed at third.
Post 29 manager Myron Day disagreed with the call, and played the remainder of the game under protest. Once the ball was put back into play, Reynolds called time and called his infield to the mound.
The next pitch was purposely thrown outside, and catcher Hunter Jackson threw a laser to third to pickoff Macchia for the second out in a set play designed by Reynolds.
Wakefield flew out to right to end the top-half, and kept the game tied at 3.
“We went out and put a little play on to try and entice the runner,” Reynolds said.
Brandon Alexander started the bottom of the eighth with a hit up the middle, and was moved over by Harris’ sacrifice. Dellinger pushed one into the opposite field for a base hit, and the ball hopped by Wakefield in left and kept rolling. The error allowed Alexander to score the go-ahead and Dellinger to go to second. Once Wakefield grabbed the ball, he overthrew his target and the throwing error allowed Dellinger to take third.
Jackson flew out to Wakefield for the second out, and Dellinger tagged up and scored to make it 5-3. But Post 29 appealed that he left third base early and won the appeal, ending the inning on Post 100’s fifth double play of the game.
“They got two quick outs on us so many times that … we were one hit away from going up three or four runs,” Reynolds said.
Lost in all of the game’s oddities was the brilliance of Cherryville right-hander Gray Goins.
The Lawndale Burns product took over for an ineffective Jonathan Carpenter in the fourth. Goins inherited a 2-0 count on Biddix and the bases loaded –– all via the walk –– with nobody out.
Biddix flew out to left for the sacrifice, but Goins didn’t allow anyone else to cross the plate as he retired Phillip Page via the infield fly rule and got Tre’ Harper to roll into a fielder’s choice at second base.
Hamel’s double in the fifth was the only run charged to Goins. He allowed five hits, struck out two, and walked none as his offense methodically climbed back in.
Goins’ line in the ninth was three straight flyouts, all to Beam in centerfield, two of which were deep balls the centerfielder had to chase down near the fence and catch on the run Willie Mays-style.
“I actually went to the mound (in the fourth) and said, ‘I don’t give a crap about these (runners at) second and third, let’s try to keep this guy from first from scoring. So (Goins) did one more better than that,” Reynolds said. “He saved us from having to really come back.
“What an outing Gray had.”
Notes: West Lincoln teammates Jenkins and Dellinger, who graduate later this week, had two hits each for Post 100. Jenkins will play at Gardner-Webb while Dellinger will play at Catawba Valley Community College. … Carpenter’s line was two runs on one hit and six walks to go along with a pair of strikeouts. … The game was Cherryville’s third in as many days. It will have played eight games in eight days at the conclusion of its division doubleheader against Asheville Post 70 on Wednesday.