MINT HILL, NC – The Mint Hill American Legion Baseball team advanced to the Area IV Championship round of the Legion State Playoffs by winning the best of 5 series 3 to 1. The ‘Boys of Summer’ continue to outslug their opponents with gutty performances by their pitching staff after losing their top two starters. Jeremy Beamen departed for college early, and Independence High School ace Carson Gesing has been sidelined resting his arm. He has been handling much of the DH role for the home team. So it will be up to the arms of Wilson Lohrer, Ick Cirino, Sam House, Adam Wilkerson, Timmy Cotton, and Taylor Moser to carry the load.
It certainly has been a challenge for Coaches Glenn Mangum, and Sam Skinner to keep a rotation intact and healthy playing almost nightly. The good news is this team can produce runs, they must tighten up their defense to remain competitive advancing into this next round of competition. We will be matched up against Cherryville, a perennial powerhouse in American Legion baseball history in North Carolina. This is when it gets serious because the winner will advance to the State Championship.
In the opening game victory against Burke County who can hit the baseball especially their clean-up hitter Mason Mozeley, who would eventually crush a 3 run homer against relief pitcher Taylor Moser with two outs in the seventh inning to make the score 12-11 knocking Moser out of the game.
However, this game was a wild display of offensive power as Burke County had 10 hits and Mint Hill slammed 14 hits with 5 for extra bases in the contest. Burke County took a 2-1 lead after two innings, but Mint Hill scored 4 runs in the 3rd inning when Lohrer singled, promptly stole second base, Cirino was HBP, Tommy Walker singled driving in Lohrer, Gesing drilled a hard smash that turned into a two-base error scoring Walker, with Cirino at 3rd base and Gesing on 2nd base, Jake Stanley would deliver a 2 RBI line-drive single to right field scoring both runners with two outs taking a 5-2 lead.
Burke County would bounce back scoring 4 runs of their own in the 4th inning. The big blow came when Mozeley drilled a rocket into the right center field gap to empty the bases while getting his first 3 RBI’s of the ball game for the visitors.
In the 5th inning, after Nathan Samii hit a hard grounder in the hole to shortstop, and was just nipped at first base on a very close play, Cirino followed with a single to left, Gesing beat out an infield hit, Stanley would smash a double driving in both runners for 2 more RBI’s, then Andy Duran creamed a fastball off the fence in left center driving in Stanley giving the Mint Hill an 8-6 advantage.
The home team in the 6th inning added 4 more insurance runs. Lohrer would smack a single up the middle, Samii doubled into the right-center field gap scoring Lohrer, Cirino singled, with runners at the corners, on a hit-and-run with Cirino in motion, Walker doubled down the left-field line scoring both runners giving Mint Hill what looked like a very comfortable 12-6 lead heading into the top of the 7th inning with only 3 outs to finish off a very solid performance.
However, Burke County had other ideas and ended up scoring 5 runs to make this game very interesting. The big blow was again delivered by Mozeley when he hit a 3 run bomb accumulating 6 RBI’s on the night for the boys in red. Coach Mangum, called on Timmy Cotton to get the final out, he delivered with a ground out to second that was handled cleanly by Stanley who fired to Lohrer at first to end the ball game.
In the nightcap, Burke County came back to salvage a 4-0 win on a nice shut-out performance. On Monday, the team traveled to Burke County and beat the home team 4-2 giving Mint Hill a 2-1 lead in the series.
However, in the final game on the road again in Burke County, the team was down 4-0 after five innings. In the sixth, they were able to scratch a run when Cirino walked, and David Garfinkel drilled a double to right to make it 4-1.
Then in the 7th inning, the offense ignited for 6 runs to finish the series. Wilkerson walked, Lohrer, smashes a triple scoring Wilkerson, Samii walks, steals second base, then Lohrer steals home on a wild pitch advancing Samii to third, Cirino walks and promptly steals second base, Moser hits a sacrifice fly to center field scoring Samii, Garfinkel walks, then Gesing singles to right scoring 2 more runs, with Garfinkle on third, Jack Prosser drills a base hit to right scoring the runner.
Mint Hill wins game 4 with a great come from behind 7-4 victory, and now will face-off against Cherryville for the Area IV Championship.