The Mint Hill Senior American Legion baseball team experienced their second loss of the season. The team is now 4-2 with four wins on the road, and two losses at home with plenty of baseball to be played.
The Gaston Braves came into town on Thursday night and showed some firepower smacking three home runs off of Mint Hill pitching. Also, the home team played without three of their top starters from Providence High School due to a final school event. However, now that the school year just ended, coach Bryan Bunn believes the team should be well positioned going forward with player availability for the remaining games and ultimately in the playoffs.
The Mint Hill starter Drew Harris from Independence has not pitched since early spring during the high school season due to injury. This game was his first start, more like a spring training game as he did not have his best stuff, but his competitive spirit showed.
In the first he was able to get two quick outs, however, a base hit to center field put a runner on second base, then on a hit and run situation, the next batter belted a line drive into the right-center field gap with the ball rolling to the wall to drive in the games first run. Harris was able to retire the next hitter on a grounder to end the threat.
The home team bounced back with 2 runs of their own on three hits and a walk. The big hit coming off the bat of Owen Tappy who lined a single for two RBI’s with the bases loaded.
In the third inning, the Braves Dosi Jonas would crush a Harris pitch deep over the left- center field fence for a 2 run homer, followed by a solo home run by Jason Szot to top off a 3 run inning. The Braves now had a 4-2 lead.
In the fourth inning, Independence Raja Milton took the mound and was rudely welcomed as the Braves pounded 4 hits with two extra base knocks including a 3 run bomb by Preston Conner for a commanding 8-2 advantage. Mint Hill would manage to score a run in their bottom half with score now 8-3 after four complete innings.
Enter Corbin Berkovics, the UNCC student who just completed his freshman year took the mound. He would put the Braves down in order in the fifth. Mint Hill would again scratch and claw for 2 more runs on multiple hits a walk and an error to make the score 8-5. However, this was as close as they will get tonight to keep the game in reach.
In the sixth and seventh innings, the Braves would manage to score 3 additional insurance runs to take a six run lead going into the bottom of the seventh inning. They just kept getting timely hits including a few bloopers to drive in runs with Berkovics on the mound.
In the bottom of the seventh, Mint Hill went down in order against the Braves closer who pitched the final two innings to shutdown the home club.
The seniors have a break in their schedule to regroup until June 11th when Cherryville visits Independence Stadium for a schedule 7 pm start. The visitors will be hungry for a win as Mint Hill defeated them on their home turf in front of a large hometown crowd on May 27th. It would be fantastic if the Town of Mint Hill could show up with good fan support for our senior team in this big upcoming ballgame. The following upcoming home games will be June 15th against Lincoln City at 7 pm and Huntersville on June 17th at 7 pm.