By RYAN HERMAN
CHERRYVILLE –– Things keep going downhill for Cherryville Post 100, and at the wrong time.
Shelby Post 82 broke things open with a four-run seventh inning Saturday en route to an 8-0 win, and Rutherford County Post 423 added insult to injury with a 7-4 win on Sunday to send Post 100 to its fifth straight loss and sixth in its last seven games.
In a week’s time Post 100 (14-12, 9-8 Area IV Western Division) went from second in the division and two back in the loss column to Shelby, to fifth heading into this afternoon’s Area IV playoff seeding meeting at Cherryville.
Post 82’s win Saturday locked up the division title and gave it the No. 1 seed for the playoffs, which are scheduled to begin on Tuesday. But it wasn’t until the seventh inning that Shelby could breathe comfortably.
Shelby chased Cherryville starter Randall Long after he had faced just eight batters, but only held a 2-0 lead after two innings. Long walked four and gave up a hit in one-plus innings, but he got a big strikeout to end the first with the bases loaded and allowed his only run on a balk.
Long walked Chandler Young to start the second and was pulled for Dillon Harris. Harris came on and retired the first two he faced on groundouts before giving up back-to-back singles to Cody Fitch and Jay Seagle, the first of which scored a run when shortstop Jonathan Carpenter made a bad throw to first in an attempt to get the speedy Fitch that allowed him to advance and Brock Melton to score.
Harris again worked his way into trouble in the third, allowing hits to Ryan Luckadoo and Nick Hastings and walking Young to fill the bags with no outs. But he got out of it with a popup and back-to-back strikeouts as Shelby, which beat Hickory Post 48 10-0 in five innings on Sunday, stranded eight in the first three frames.
From the popup by Melton for the first out in the third to a strikeout by Young for the final out in the top of the fifth, Harris retired nine straight as what was once a game dominated by Shelby (26-2, 16-2) became a pitchers’ duel.
Post 82 starter Ethan Carpenter was fantastic, allowing only three hits to seven strikeouts in the first six innings. Cherryville had only two runners reach second base during that time, and both times the runners were left there.
Carpenter retired the sides in order in the second, fourth and sixth innings, and Harris worked around a lead-off single by Melton to start the sixth as both pitchers held serve in the 2-0 contest heading into the seventh.
Harris walked two and gave up two hits, and was hurt by an error in the four-run inning. Melton plated a run with a single, and Dustin Jones scored two with his single. Jackson Mims made it 6-0 with an RBI groundout.
Post 100’s best scoring chance against Carpenter came in the bottom of the frame when it had three hits, all singles by Caleb Narron, Jonathan Carpenter and Josh Beam. Beam’s hit went to center field, where Hastings fielded it and made a perfect throw home to nail Narron at the plate for the third out.
Jalen Byrd took over for Carpenter in the eighth, and pitched a pair of scoreless, and laborious, innings. Cherryville got a runner to third in both frames, but couldn’t get them home.
Carpenter gave up six hits, walked two and struck out nine in the win.
Shelby made it 8-0 in the eighth on a two-run single by Melton, who went 3-for-4 with a walk, three RBIs and scored twice. Jonathan Carpenter went 3-for-4 and had the game’s only extra-base hit when he doubled with two outs in the ninth.
Notes: Brett Huff had two hits for Cherryville. … Post 100 and Haywood County, which split its games on Sunday, did not play the second game of their doubleheader on Friday because of rain. Haywood won the first game 5-4. … A special ceremony was held after Saturday’s game for longtime Cherryville public address announcer Danny Eaker and his wife, Judie, who operates the music at Post 100 games. The couple recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.