Mint Hill defeats Lincoln County 8-7, advances with 11-9 road win

Corbin Berkovics delivers a pitch while runner tries to steal second. (Ed Berti)
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Mint Hill hitter drills a base hit. (Ed Berti)
Sam Kagan ready to drive a liner drive for Mint Hill. (Ed Berti)
Bubba Comer set in the batters box. (Ed Berti)
Lincoln County runner scores while Brandon Smith awaits late throw to home. (Ed Berti)

The Mint Hill Senior American Legion baseball club is advancing to the 3rd round of the playoffs with two straight victories an 8-7 home win, and another high scoring game victory 11-9 on the road.

With playoff games being played almost nightly it puts a major strain on the pitching staffs of all the teams. Therefore, counting pitches becomes a requirement of every team who in competing in the tournament. The coaches want to keep their pitchers fresh and available for some innings if necessary in another game. So managing your pitching staff really becomes a priority along with being a major challenge.

Lincoln took an early 1-0 lead off of Mint Hill starter Corbin Berkovics who faced five batters in the first inning. He gave up a lead-off double, picked up a ground out advancing the runner to third who would eventually score on a sacrifice fly to center field.

Berkovics sailed through the fourth inning keeping the score at 1-0, while Lincoln County hurler Josh Allen held Mint Hill scoreless until the fifth.

In the top half of the fifth inning, Lincoln County would score 2 more runs on two hits and an error to take a 3-0 lead. However, Mint Hill would score a run in the bottom half of the inning when Matthew Mangum walked leading off, Brandon Smith would draw a base on balls, and Bubba Comer would deliver a hit scoring Mangum. However, the home team would strand two base runners unable to cash in with no outs trailing 3-1.

Berkovics started the sixth inning, was able to get two quick outs, but hit a batter and was lifted based on his pitch count. Michael Dansky entered the game in relief and would strike out the batter for the final out. Berkovics pitched 5 2/3 innings giving up three runs, two earned keeping his club close while picking up three strike outs.

In the sixth inning, Mint Hill would score 4 runs off of a relief pitcher for Lincoln County. Caleb Embry and Noah Howie reached base being hit by a pitch, the Mangum boys would deliver base hits along with Dansky and a sacrifice fly to take a 5-3 lead after six frames.

In the seventh inning this game became wild and sloppy. Dansky was rudely greeted with a base hit, a double, he overthrew a bunt down the third base line allowing a runner to score and runners to advance a base, another error at shortstop allowed a run to score, a sacrifice fly and hit would end the scoring giving the visitors a 7-5 lead.

However, there is no quit in this Mint Hill team, after Own Tappy would fly out to deep right center, followed by a walk to Embry, a base hit by Howie, two more base on balls to the Mangum brothers scoring one run, a wild pitch thrown to Smith with the ball kicking off the brick backstop up the first base line, both Howie and Ryan Mangum would score the winning runs giving the hometown boys an 8-7 wild game ending victory.

The boys would travel to Lincoln County the following night to come home with another wild offensive display scoring 11 runs on 14 hits to defeat their opponent 11-9 to take the series in four games 3 games to 1.

Mint Hill will begin the 3rd playoff round on Saturday, July 13th against the Gaston Braves  at Independence High School Stadium at 7:00 pm.

Team                    1   2   3   4   5   6   7   R   H   E

Lincoln County      1   0   0   0   2   0   4    7   7   1

Mint Hill               0   0   0    0   1   4   3    8   9   3

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Ed Berti
Ed is retired and remains active as a freelance writer, local journalist and independent contractor. He is engaged in print and electronic media writing stories covering business, sports, hometown news and veteran's affairs including articles of interest to various media outlets. Ed is a graduate of Wagner College where he earned an MBA and holds a BBA from Pace University.
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