WL sweeps Newton-Conover
By RYAN HERMAN
NEWTON –– West Lincoln may have opened its Western Piedmont Instructional League season on a down note, but it’s making sure it ends on a high one.
Charles Mack George was perfect at the plate, reaching base six times with three hits and a pair of RBIs, and he and Dalton Brooks paired to overpower Newton-Conover on the mound as the Rebels swept Tuesday’s doubleheader, 4-2 in the opener and 10-0 in a mercy-rule shortened nightcap.
The sweep gave West Lincoln (9-10-1) five wins in its last seven games after it opened the short summer league season by dropping five of its first six. The Rebels have four games left on their schedule, with home doubleheaders against Watauga on Thursday and Hickory on Friday.
Brooks’ no-hit bid in Game 1 against the Red Devils was broken up with one out in the fourth inning on a double by Kyle Hall. Zach Goans singled behind Hall, then Payton Durham plated both with a single to left.
By the time Newton-Conover got on the board, the Rebels were already ahead 3-0, and got that lead thanks to free passes and a hit batter.
Up 1-0 entering the fourth Matt Bumgarner and Ashton Rana drew back-to-back base-on-balls. A fielder’s choice by Brooks led to an error, which loaded the bases for Logan Carpenter. Carpenter took a fastball to the middle of his back, which plated Bumgarner. Dylan Frady followed with a groundout to first that scored Rana for a 3-0 lead.
West Lincoln again benefited from walks and added an insurance run in the fifth. Rana made it 4-2 with a single that scored George, who walked to begin the inning and moved to third on a passed ball.
George plated the game’s first run with a single in the third that scored Coltyn Miller, who led off the inning with a double into the gap in left –– the Rebels’ only extra-base hit of the night.
Brooks finished all five innings of the first game, giving up a pair of earned runs on four hits and two walks. He struck out eight, including the sides in both the first and third innings.
West Lincoln’s offense wasn’t explosive in the second game, but was patient enough to make Newton-Conover pay for six walks in the first two innings.
Pate Craig drew a walk in all three of his Game 2 plate appearances, scoring twice, and driving in a run in the second when he earned a free pass with the bags full. Dallas Bridges drew a bases-loaded walk in the first, Rana plated a run on a bases-loaded fielder’s choice, and an error on the play allowed Jake Bradley to score after he walked ahead of Bridges.
After George retired the side in order in the bottom of the first with a 1-6-3 double play, the Rebels put it way with seven runs in the second.
Nate Smith and Frady led off with walks, and Miller followed with a hit to load them up for Craig, who walked. George came through with an RBI single, and Bradley followed with a two-run single that made it 7-0 with no outs.
Bridges ground into a fielder’s choice at second to force out Bradley, but Rana, who reached base five times with two hits, three RBIs and a pair of walks, made it 8-0 on a base hit a batter later. Caleb Adams put the mercy rule into effect by plating two on what appeared to be a double, but the Red Devils appealed that he missed first base on his way to second and won the appeal, taking away Adams’ hit.
West Lincoln loaded the bases in the third on a single by Smith and two more walks, but couldn’t add to its lead. George, who worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the second after a hit and two walks, struck out the side in order in the third to end the game after three innings.
The rising senior and defending state 2A wrestling champion in the 195-pound weight class struck out seven of the 12 he faced, including the side in the second.