The Mint Hill junior baseball team ages 14-17 all high school players split a doubleheader with the North Lincoln Knights by winning the opener 7-5 and losing the nightcap 4-3 after taking a 3-1 lead in the 8th inning of an extra-inning affair at Independence High School.
Game 1: North Lincoln 5 – Mint Hill 7
In the opener, the boys of summer gave up four quick runs on multiple base hits with the big hit being a double to drive in two runs off starter Michael Rollins. In the bottom of the first, Mint Hill would bounce back scoring three runs with Andy Duran slamming a double to pick up two ribbies of his own. Brother Alwin would follow with a single for an RBI.
In the second, Rollins would put the Knights down in order and appeared to settle down and take command of his pitches. While the home team would tie the score at 4-4 after two innings of play.
In the third, Lincoln would manage a run on a two-out single to take a short 5-4 lead. However, in the third Brandon Moser would lead-off with a base hit up the middle, Connor Abbey would follow with a single, then Hayden Davis would walk to load up the bases. Chris Hoehling would smack a line drive single to right center to drive in two runs, with one out Taylor Moser would single to drive in the final run of the inning to take a 7-5 lead.
In the fourth, relief hurler Cameron King loaded up the bases with one out, he would proceed to strike out the next two batters on just eight pitches to end the threat and get out of the jam.
In the fifth, the final inning of a scheduled doubleheader, the Stallion sophomore hurler would walk the lead-off hitter on a 3-2 count on a pitch that was just outside. On the first pitch to the next Knights hitter, he would ground into a nicely executed 6-4-3 double play. This was the infields third double play turned in the game for the home team. King would then strike out the next batter to end the contest for the save and victory.
Game 2: Mint Hill 3 – North Lincoln 4
Independence High School pitcher Connor Randall hurled four solid innings as the starter for Mint Hill. He picked up a couple of strikeouts and allowed only two hits and one run while pitching efficiently on the mound.
This game was a pitching match-up as the hurler’s dominated for seven innings of baseball. Mint Hill was able to tie the ball game in the top of the fifth when the lead-off batter was hit by a pitch, Carson Snell would lay down a sacrifice bunt, the ball was thrown past the first baseman putting runners on the corners. After getting the runner out at the plate trying the score on an infield grounder, the next batter could not advance the runners, then with two outs, Moser would line a double to right field scoring a run to tie the ball game.
Meanwhile, Mint Hill hurlers in relief Moser and Austin Williams would pitch three innings of shut-out baseball. In the eighth inning, the home team would finally break through and score two runs on a couple of walks, a base hit and wild pitch to take a 3-1 lead.
Enter closer Andy Duran, usually an effective hard thrower, who sometimes can make matters interesting when on the mound. If he is on his game, it’s normally lights out, game over. However, tonight he had a difficult time finding the strike zone, he was missing with his bread and butter fastball. He ended up pitching to four 3-2 pitch counts and lost all four batters by surrendering walks. He would strike out the second batter, the next hitter should have been the second out, but reached on a throwing error by the first baseman on a fielders choice, he would walk in two batters on full counts, and allowed the only hit of the inning a line drive single to right to give the visiting Knights a gift late evening 4-3 victory.
The Mint Hill Juniors are now 5-2 on the season, they will play against Burns away on D-Day June 6th at 7 pm. Then return home on Friday, June 7th vs. Kannapolis at 7 pm.
North Lincoln – 4 0 1 0 0 – 5 9 2
Mint Hill – 3 1 3 0 X – 7 7 1
Mint Hill – 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 2 – 3 8 1
North Lincoln – 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 3 – 4 8 2