By RYAN HERMAN
SHELBY –– Cherryville Post 100 was one strike away from knocking off the two-time defending American Legion baseball state champion, but Jon Kuebler wasn’t about to go down swinging again.
Kuebler, who struck out three times in his first four at-bats, bounced back with a two-run single in his final plate appearance to lift Wilmington Post 10 to an 8-6 win over Cherryville in the Shelby Super Challenge Invitational at Keeter Stadium on Wednesday.
An error and a walk put runners at first and second for Kuebler, whose team played as the visiting team and entered the top of the seventh in a 6-5 hole.
Alex Murray got a pair of groundouts ahead of Kuebler, and was ahead in the count to Post 10’s leadoff hitter. But Kuebler laced the next pitch into left field to plate the go-ahead runs.
Kuebler went to second on the throw, and Collin Dolan followed with a single to score Kuebler for an 8-6 advantage.
Collin Thacker came on to close things out for Post 10, and pitched a 1-2-3 seventh for the save.
Wilmington, which entered the three-team showcase with a 6-1 record, fell to host Shelby Post 82 in the nightcap, 2-1. Both games were seven-inning affairs.
Playing without their full compliment of players, neither Post 10 nor Cherryville could deliver the knockout punch.
Wilmington went up 5-2 with three runs in the fifth and forced Post 100 starter Randall Long to the bench. Thacker’s double made it 3-2, and a wild pitch by Murray allowed a run to cross to make it 4-2.
Dakota Perryman’s single scored Post 10’s fifth run, but the three-run lead wasn’t safe.
Cherryville (12-6) got two back in the in the home-half, and both were scored on a play with two errors.
Caleb Narron walked to start the half, then with one out, Hunter Jackson’s ground ball turned into an error, which allowed Narron to move to third. Catcher Perryman picked up the ball to try and get Jackson advancing to second but threw it into the outfield, and Jackson was able to cross the plate to make it 5-4.
Murray struck out the side in the sixth, and Cherryville took the lead in its half on a pair of wild pitches.
Chandler Jenkins reached on a fielder’s choice, then with two out Narron reached on Perryman’s second error of the game. Both wound up scoring on wild pitches by Josh Rogers.
Jenkins rolled over into a double play in the first but drove in a run for a 1-0 lead after one.
Wilmington took a 2-1 lead in the top of the second on back-to-back bases-loaded fielder’s choices, then Jackson tied it in the third with a fielder’s choice that scored Jenkins, who reached base three times and scored two runs.
Notes: Cherryville’s Brett Huff went 2-for-3 with a walk, Narron went 2-for-3, scored twice and reached base four times, and Jackson reached base three times and stole three bases. … Post 100 was missing six players, and lost back-to-back games for the first time this season. … The game was delayed 45 minutes due to lightning and rain.