A week ago, Cherryville Post 100 head coach Bobby Reynolds said if his team were to fall short of its state championship aspirations, it wouldn’t be due to a lack of effort. And while Post 100 failed to advance to the title game after spotting Wilmington Post 10 a 10-0 lead through three innings, Reynolds’ guys never gave up, applying pressure with seven runs in the game’s final inning to make Wilmington sweat before securing the final out of a 14-12 victory.
Wilmington came out like gangbusters, with starting pitcher Alex Sniffen striking out the side in order in the top of the first inning, and the Post 10 bats spotting Sniffen an 8-0 lead in the bottom half of the frame.
Dalton Pence, Cherryville’s starting pitcher, never could find his command on the mound. The southpaw walked the first batter he faced and hit the next, and after a sacrifice-bunt moved both runners into scoring position with one out, Wilmington pushed across the first run of the game with a fielder’s choice ground ball to third base.
With two outs in the inning, Post 100 had a chance to limit the damage to just one run, but that’s when the wheels fell off.
Pence promptly uncorked a pitch in the dirt that brought a second run home from third, and then proceeded to walk the next two batters. The game’s first hit, an RBI single into the outfield, pushed Wilmington’s lead to 3-0 before Pence issued his fourth-and-final free pass, loading the bases for the nine-hole hitter. Post 10 second-baseman Rocco Farmintino stepped to the plate and lined a bases-clearing triple into the gap in right-center, doubling the lead to 6-0 and knocking Pence out of the game.
Pence faced nine batters and recorded just two outs, allowing seven runs on two hits and four walks. While it was a nightmare outing for the young lefty, Pence - a rising junior at Cherryville High School - figures to be a key cog in the Post 100 rotation for years to come.
Pence was replaced by West Lincoln’s Chris Moxley, who was greeted with back-to-back RBI singles by the top of the Wilmington lineup before notching a strikeout to bring the inning to a merciful end.
While Cherryville struggled to the tune of just one hit through the game’s first four innings, Post 10 kept its foot on the gas. A solo home run with two outs in the second inning extended Wilmington’s lead to 9-0, and consecutive doubles to lead off the third added another run to the tally.
Not only could Post 100 not hit Sniffen in the early going; they could barely make contact against the burly right-hander, who recorded 13 strikeouts in 5.1 innings of work.
Ever-resilient, Cherryville finally solved Sniffen in the fifth inning, tagging him for three runs, including a pair of RBI knocks by Jared Emory and Zach Wilson, as well as a sacrifice-fly off the bat of Robbie Cowie. Post 100 tacked on two more runs in the sixth, with Wilson and Levi Kiser each producing runs to cut the deficit in half at 10-5.
Just when it appeared as though Post 100 had finally clawed its way back within reach, Wilmington answered right back with four insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth, including a three-run home run that proved to be crucial.
Trailing by nine runs entering the final inning, Cherryville proved its mettle once more, starting with a solo shot over the fence in left by Cowie to open the frame. Colson Miller followed with a single, and a hit batsman and a walk loaded the bases with two outs for Wilson, who kept the line moving with an RBI single before Kiser plated two more runs with his own base hit.
With Post 100 trailing 14-9 and down to the final out of its season, Wes Reynolds calmly dug in and launched a three-run bomb into the night sky, cutting the deficit to 14-12. Having batted around in the inning, Cowie returned to the dish for Cherryville with the potential tying run in the on-deck circle, but his ground ball to shortstop was handled cleanly for the game’s final out.
Cherryville 000 032 7 - 12 9 2
Wilmington 811 004 x - 14 11 2