Special to LTN
DENVER — The last time East Lincoln senior Darin Salter took the mound, he was perfect.
On Tuesday against Lincolnton, Salter wasn’t perfect – and neither were the Mustangs – but they were pretty close and gave coach Chris Matile little reason to complain.
“Energy, effort and enthusiasm – those are the three things we talk about all the time,” Matile said after East Lincoln’s 7-0 victory. “If we can play with those three things night in and night out, we’re going to be where we need to be.”
The Mustangs’ win against the Wolves was workmanlike:
— Salter and Chris Cox combined on a three-hitter with nine strikeouts and three walks.
— Five batters drove in runs and six scored.
— East Lincoln played error-free and turned a 6-4-3 double play in the fourth inning that extinguished Lincolnton’s best scoring opportunity.
And most importantly, the Mustangs remained undefeated in Southern Piedmont Conference play at 4-0 and 7-2 overall. The Wolves remained winless at 0-4 in the conference.
“Absolutely — we’re 4-0 and that’s what we keep talking about,” Matile said of the importance of a good start in league play. “Those are important wins.”
A week after pitching a five-inning perfect game in a shutout against North Lincoln, Salter (4-0) surrendered an infield hit to Lincolnton’s Bradley Franklin in the first inning. He gave up back-to-back singles to start the fourth inning to Jordon Easter and J.T. Bowden, but got out of the jam by coaxing a double-play grounder from Logan Ray and striking out T.J. Queen to end the inning.
Cox was near perfect in three innings of relief, allowing just two baserunners on a walk and third strike wild pitch.
The Mustangs scored all of their runs in the first four innings.
Addison Parrish belted a two-out double off the left field fence in the first inning off Lincolnton starter Ethan Smith to score Salter. Garrett Young drove home Cory Petersen and Carson Philemon in the second with a single to left to make it 3-0.
Parrish scored on a Philemon sacrifice bunt in the third and the Mustangs gave themselves a cushion with three runs in the fourth.
Lincolnton coach Cole Sigmon replaced Smith with Easter in the fourth inning with one out and runners on second and third. Danny Sullivan greeted Easter with a run-scoring single to left and Parrish drove home Salter with a sacrifice fly. Austin Buchanan knocked in Sullivan with a single to left to close out the scoring.
Easter was effective in relief, pitching the final 2.2 innings for the Wolves and allowing three hits and one run with three strikeouts.
Parrish was 2-3 with two RBIs for the Mustangs, Salter was 1-2 with two runs and Young was 1-2 with two RBIs.
“I’m proud of them,” Matile said. “We played solid defense. Darin pitched another good game.Chris Cox came in and did a good job. I couldn’t be any happier.”
East Lincoln plays at Bessemer City on Friday, while Lincolnton travels to West Lincoln.