Post 100 eliminates Post 455
By RICHARD WALKER
Special to the LTN
DENVER –– For the better part of the past two days, veteran Cherryville Post 100 American Legion baseball player Brandon Alexander had struggled mightily.
But when Alexander bounced back, he did so with a game-winning vengeance on Saturday night at East Lincoln High School.
Alexander slugged a two-run home run in the top of the 10th inning that proved decisive in a 5-3 Cherryville victory over Lincoln County. Then he came on in relief of starter and winner Jonathan Carpenter to strike out the only batter he faced with two men on base for a save that wrapped up the series-clinching victory.
The win came 24 hours after the Cardinals won Game 3, 7-5, to force a Game 4.
“I just wanted to do something positive,” said Alexander, a three-year veteran. “I didn’t exactly go to the plate with the utmost in confidence the last time. But I just kept swinging and hoped something good would happen.”
Alexander’s home run came two pitches after Dillon Harris was hit by a pitch with two outs and nobody on. After a wild pitch sent Harris to second, Alexander said he expected a fastball from Cardinals reliever Nathaniel Scoggins.
When he got it, Alexander slugged his first home run of the season over the fence in left field.
“I’m oh for four with two strikeouts tonight and one for nine the last two games,” Alexander said. “So I was just looking for a positive at-bat.”
Still, Alexander needed to do a little more.
After Cherryville starter and winner Jonathan Carpenter tired after 135 pitches and 9 2-3 innings of eight-hit, nine-strikeout ball in the bottom of the 10th, Alexander relieved with runners on first and second base and got the game-ending strikeout.
The result improved Cherryville’s record to 19-12, clinched the Area IV best-of-five first round series three games to one, advanced Post 100 into a quarterfinal series that starts today against the Gaston Braves at Belmont South Point and extended Cherryville’s streak of opening-round victories.
Cherryville has now won the opening round series in 10 straight playoff seasons. Post 100 is one shy of the Area IV record held by Hickory from 1966 to 1976 and tied with the Gaston Braves (1997-2006), Caldwell County (1998-2007) and Shelby (2001-10).
“We’re just happy to be going to the next round,” said Cherryville coach Bobby Reynolds, whose team was eliminated in last year’s Area IV semifinals by Lincoln County. “I thought we got one of Jonathan’s best pitching performances of the year –– and needed every bit of it. And Brandon came up big for us there at the end.”
Chandler Jenkins and Josh Beam had two hits apiece to lead Cherryville’s nine-hit offense, with Beam driving in Cherryville’s first two runs on two-out RBI hits.
“We were just looking to find a way to win and advance,” said Carpenter, who had pitched only 24 1-3 innings in six appearances before Saturday this season.
For Lincoln County, whose season ended at 8-14, Clay Hodges, Justin Norton and J.T. Bowden got two hits apiece and leadoff batter Chase Watson had one hit and drew three walks in five plate appearances. Groundouts by Scoggins and Hodges and a wild pitch in the ninth inning brought home the Cardinals’ runs.
LINCOLN COUNTY 7
CHERRYVILLE –– Paul Cochrane didn’t allow a run over the final 3 1-3 innings and Chase Watson drove in the go ahead run in the seventh as the Cardinals stayed alive with on Friday.
In a game suspended by rain in the top of the first inning on Thursday, Lincoln County jumped out to a 4-0 lead after an inning and a half. Clay Hodges two-run double was the key hit in the second, scoring Alex Pickeral and J.T. Bowden, who had singled to start the inning.
Cherryville got RBIs from Jenkins Dillon Harris in the bottom of the fourth to tie it at 4.
Post 100 took its first lead in the home-half of the sixth when Jenkins delivered a one-out double, then scored on Harris’ second double of the night.
Lincoln County answered in the seventh on a pair of runs on a single by Chase Watson and a fielder’s choice, giving Post 455 the lead at 6-5.
It added an insurance run in the top of the ninth on back-to-back doubles by Hodges and Scoggins.
Cochrane, in relief of Nick Savoie, picked up the win for Lincoln County. He came on with two outs in the sixth, and retired 10 of the 11 he faced to close it out.
LTN correspondent David Keever contributed to this article