CHERRYVILLE–It is still too early to panic, but Cherryville can ill afford many more outings like Monday night`s game against Charlotte Post 262.
Charlotte, the last place team in the Eastern Division of Area Four, extended Post 100`s free fall with a 9-3 win that was even more dominant that the score suggests.
Cherryville`s third straight loss, all of them coming at Fraley Field, dropped the defending state and regional champions into eighth place in the Eastern Division with a 2-4 record (5-5 overall).
And even though it is unthinkable that Post 100 will not make the Area Four playoffs, the team needs to right the ship soon. Should Cherryville finish ninth or 10th in the 10-team division, there will be no postseason for the program that has won six straight divisional titles.
Monday`s game followed the pattern of the two previous home losses. The pitching was inconsistent, the defense was shaky at best, and the hitting did not produce in clutch situation.
There were also mental errors that did not make it into the linescore but hurt nonetheless.
Charlotte (2-6, 2-6) had a say in the outcome as well. Hard-working righthander Josh Barker pitched shutout ball through the first seven innings, giving up only one walk and working his way out of several jams.
When Barker left the game after seven innings, Charlotte led 9-0. It was only against Post 262 relievers that Cherryville managed to avoid the goose egg with a run in the eighth and two runs in the ninth.
The turning point in the game for Cherryville came in the bottom of the second inning. Trailing only 1-0, Post 100 loaded the bases with no outs on consecutive singles by Chris Cook, Josh Day and Daniel Schronce.
A big inning appeared to be brewing, but Cherryville let Barker escape with no damage. The next two batters, Bo Bridges and Dylan Anthony, failed to put the ball in play by striking out. Barker then retired Josh Glover on a fly ball to center field for the inning-ending out.
Even when Charlotte made a mistake, Post 100 could not capitalize. Post 262 shortstop Scott Brewer mishandled two perfect double-play ground balls in the fourth inning, allowing Cherryville to load the bases with one out.
So what happened? Glover fell behind 0-2 in the count and struck out on a fastball from Barker. Steven Hoyle then hit a harmless grounder to second to retire the side.
Cherryville left nine runners stranded in the first four innings, and the home team never mounted another threat against Barker.
Meanwhile, Post 262 took advantage of six Cherryville errors to score three unearned runs. The visitors also received a gift in the form of a run on a balk by Cherryville starting pitcher Chris Christensen.
The balk came in the fourth inning when Charlotte scored four runs to open a 5-0 lead. Two of the runs scored on a throwing error by the infield on a double-play ball.
In addition to his pitching, Barker went 3-for-4 at the plate and scored twice.
In the seventh inning, a play occurred that summed up Post 100`s recent struggles. With two outs, Post 100 third baseman Brock Alexander hit a routine fly ball to left field. While Alexander was jogging to first base, left fielder Robert Caldwell lost the ball in the lights.
Alexander got on base safely, but the single could have easily been turned into a double.
As for Cherryville`s pitching woes, starter Christensen and reliever Steven Justice, considered to be the best arms on the staff, were tagged for a combined 11 hits by the division cellar dweller.
Post 100 notes: Tonight`s game against Newell has been postponed indefinitely. With Independence High School playing for the state 4A title this weekend, Newell is having difficulty putting nine players on the field. Cherryville`s next game is Thursday night at home against Huntersville, starting time at 7. … Josh Day, a Bessemer City product, got his first action for Post 100 with a starting assignment at second base. Day was 1-for-2 at the plate but made two costly throwing errors.by Mike Powell