MINT HILL, NC – In a game that was the first meeting between the two teams, the Matthews American Legion team got the better of the Mint Hill squad with a 7-4 victory.
After a convincing victory over Statesville, it appeared the home team was not mentally prepared for a tough fight against a new brewing rivalry. Some key players were not available, however, the players are all accomplished on this team and need to perform on the field. Mint Hill committed 5 errors, along with two catcher interference calls that led to 5 unearned runs in the ballgame. As head coach Glenn Mangum said, this team will hit, is deep enough in pitching even without their top two outstanding hurlers Eli Jerzembeck, and Michael Forret from the 4A State Champions Providence Panthers. However, it became very obvious they need to tighten up defensively if they are going to win consistently.
There is good talent on the team, and we expect many more good things to happen as the season progresses. Matthews jumped off scoring an unearned run in the first inning on a throwing error that allowed a two out single to score the first run of the game. After a scoreless second inning, the visitors scored again on another unearned run allowed to cross the plate.
In the bottom half of the third inning, Mint Hill bounced back scoring two runs on three hits with the big blow coming from Fabian Walker who drilled a double deep over the center fielders head one hop to the fence to score PJ Chiles, and David Mosrie to tie the game at 2-2.
But in the top of the fourth and through the seventh inning Matthews took advantage of the Mint Hill miscues on the field, and added to their lead, while getting timely hits in key situations expanding their lead to 4-2.
In the fifth frame, Mint Hill came from behind and scored two runs of their own on 3 hits, 2 base-on-balls and a sacrifice fly. Again the key hit came from Walker who blasted his second double into the outfield gap scoring Mosrie who singled, Walker ended up on third base, and Brock Fowler followed with a long fly to left to score Walker earning the RBI on the sacrifice. So after five innings, the game was now tied at 4 apiece.
However, a few more throwing errors on the infield led to 3 more runs and the visitors took this first matchup between the two local teams. The Mint Hill defense was not all sloppy, they did pull off two double plays, and catcher Jake Stanley gunned down two base runners trying to steal second base. But consistency is the key, this was only the teams second game of the season, and Matthews had already played 7 games with an early start to their season.
The pitchers for Mint Hill deserved better, and pitched well enough to win. It’s difficult to win when you give teams extra outs. Starter Walker Brietz had a good outing, and Fowler did his job in the seventh inning in relief, but did allow an unearned run.
The next home game for Mint Hill is on June 14th, when they take on Queen City for a doubleheader. Game 1 begins at 5 pm, Game 2 starts at 7 pm. Hope to see you there.