Coaches say all the time that you never know what you’re going to get out of high school kids.
West Lincoln head coach John Markley had a feeling that his team would respond in a positive way after Tuesday night’s 3-1 loss to the Knights at North Lincoln, but one might wonder if even he saw this coming.
After starting pitcher Seth Willis retired the Knights in order in the top of the first inning, the Rebels exploded for five first-inning runs to take command early and cruise to a 9-0 victory to force a third and deciding game tonight at North Lincoln at 7 p.m.
“I think these guys play well with their backs against the wall,” said Markley following the game. “They came out with a lot of fight. They fought from the first inning all the way through the last one.”
Samuel Duncan got things started with a base hit to lead off the inning, advanced to second and third base on wild pitches and scored when Dylan Burkey’s infield grounder was misplayed.
Bobby Beam’s double scored Burkey with West Lincoln’s second run, and Seth Willis followed with the Rebels third hit of the inning.
After Chandler Carpenter was hit by a pitch, Chris Moxley connected on a sacrifice fly RBI to center to extend the Rebels’ lead to 3-0, and consecutive run-scoring singles from Dylan Smith and Brett Mason gave West Lincoln a 5-0 advantage.
The Rebels all but put the game out of reach with three more runs in the third. Carpenter was hit by a pitch for the second time in the game, then moved all the way to third base on a pair of wild pitches.
Chris Moxley’s RBI single then scored Carpenter, and Moxley would soon advance to second on a passed ball. Smith’s second hit of the game then pushed Moxley across with another run, and the throw to the plate allowed Smith to move down to second base.
Mason followed with his second hit of the night, scoring Smith to make it an 8-0 game.
West Lincoln would tack on another run in the fifth when Bobby Beam drove in Duncan, who had reached on an infield error. Burkey was thrown out at the plate on a nice relay throw, with what would have been the game-ending run.
Willis was solid on the mound all night for the Rebels. The senior right-hander allowed just four North Lincoln hits, and only got himself into a jam just once in the top of the fifth.
After a single from Tanner Brumfield was followed by a Daniel Carter double, the Knights had runners on second and third with no outs. But Willis got a strike out for the first out, and Burkey snagged a line drive off the bat of Sam Brady at third base, then stepped on the bag to double off the baserunner to end the threat.
Willis finished the game with six strikeouts, walked just one batter, and hit one.
“They were a little disappointed not to win the first game,” said Markley about his team. “They were a little down, but not out.”
As for North Lincoln, Carter’s double was the only extra-base hit of the game and the Knights managed to get only one baserunner as far as third base. Starting pitcher Seth Whitley took the loss for the Knights.
After the first two games in this best-of-three series, nobody really knows what to expect in tonight’s third and decisive game. But both coaches are looking forward to it.
“This is one of those games that you want to play in,” said Markley. “These kids, they’re ready, they’re prepared and I think they are going to give it they’re all tomorrow (Friday).
As for the Knights, “We’ve got Josh (Allen) going (Friday) said head coach John Carpenter.” He’s a big ole boy and he’s won six games for us this year. And he’s pitched in some big games for us. We’re going to come back, regroup and go tomorrow. But we’re going to have to have more than four hits.”
Game 3 is tonight at North Lincoln High School at 7 p.m. The winner will advance to next week’s 2A State Championship series against Randleman. The Tigers finished a sweep of Washington with a 10-0 win last night.
North Lincoln 000 000 0 - 0 5 2
West Lincoln 503 010 x - 9 13 0