Post 100 takes opener, ends skid
By RYAN HERMAN
CHERRYVILLE –– Cherryville Post 100 ended the regular season in a rut, but smoothed things out to open the Area IV playoffs.
Chandler Jenkins dazzled for seven strong innings, and Josh Beam and Jonathan Carpenter combined for five of Post 100’s 14 hits as it took Game 1 of the best-of-five first-round series 7-0 over Lincoln County Post 455.
Game 2 will be at East Lincoln High at 7 p.m. today with Game 3 back at Cherryville’s Fraley Field at the same time on Thursday.
Game 4, if necessary, will be at East Lincoln with the fifth and final game back in Cherryville on Saturday.
Post 100 (15-12) dropped its fifth straight game and its sixth of its last seven overall when it fell 7-4 to Rutherford County on Sunday. Area IV teams learned of their opening-round opponents on Monday, and immediately Cherryville began licking its chops. Post 100, which finished fourth in the Western Division after Haywood County was forced to forfeit its season, drew the team that kept it from winning a record seventh straight Area IV title last summer –– the Cardinals.
A new season against a team with something to prove was all Post 100 needed for its biggest win since 10-running Burke County in its last win on June 23.
“Since we got that one-up on them, it just builds a ton of confidence going into the rest of the series,” Jenkins said. “It was a good night. It was finally good to win again. We about forgot what it was like.”
But Jenkins hadn’t forgotten how to pitch.
The southpaw headed to Gardner-Webb scattered three hits across seven frames, walked two and struck out six.
He gave up two of those hits on singles to Dalton Hefner and Bryan Seymour in the third and fourth innings, respectively, but bounced back to pickoff both at first base as the West Lincoln graduate faced the minimum through four innings.
Nick Savoie reached on an error to start the fifth, and a double play ground ball by Justin Norton kept the minimum batter streak intact for Jenkins. But Bradley Hallman –– Jenkins’ opponent on the mound and a future Gardner-Webb teammate –– snapped the streak with a two-out walk.
Hefner singled again to start the sixth, but Jenkins retired the next three in order. A two-out walk by Norton was the last batter Jenkins allowed to reach before striking out Hallman to end the seventh and his outing.
“Chandler came in and gave us a big night. He pounded the strike zone, had command of about three pitches out there and could throw them all, and when he’s in that zone he’s tough to hit,” Post 100 manager Bobby Dale Reynolds said. “As long as he’s in the zone –– and we love the way he competes … he competes like nobody else out there –– I guess that exemplifies him as our No. 1.”
Cherryville wasted no time giving its ace a cushion.
Two wild pitches by Hallman plus a pair of fielding errors on the infield allowed Post 100 to stake itself to a 2-0 lead after the first inning.
Cody Dellinger led off the home-half of the first by reaching on Seymour’s fielding error at third base, and Jenkins followed two batters later with a one-out single up the middle.
A wild pitch to Dillon Harris moved the runners up, and another wild pitch to Harris allowed Dellinger to score and Jenkins to go to third.
Hallman struck out Harris for the second out, and A.J. Cook followed on a misplayed ball by Norton at shortstop which allowed Jenkins to score.
Cherryville, which had all nine in the lineup get at least one hit, broke it open in the fourth when it scored four runs on seven hits, including a two-run single by Jenkins and an RBI single by Cook, as it sent 10 to the plate.
“They just made more contact than we did,” Cardinals manager Bruce Bolick said. “They put the ball in play.”
Brett Wright came on for the Cardinals (7-12) in the sixth and pitched three scoreless innings, allowing a double to Brandon Alexander and hitting Cameron Fitch with a pitch. But they couldn’t punch through against Post 100 relievers Alexander and Grey Goines, who pitched a scoreless inning each.
“We’ve been down two-to-nothing and come back and won three in a row,” Bolick said. “It’s just day-to-day.”
“We’ll be fine. We’ve got Norton on the mound tomorrow.”
Post 100 couldn’t beat Norton in last year’s best-of-five semifinal series, which Post 455 won 3-2 to punch its first ticket to the state tournament in program history.
Now that Cherryville has shown what it can do, beating the Cardinals for a 2-0 series lead is the only thing on its mind.
“We’ll try to go down there and do something we couldn’t do last year in a series, and that’s beat Norton,” Reynolds said.
“We were capable, we just hadn’t put it all together yet.”