The Mint Hill American Legion VFW Post 4059 evened up the best of five game series on Tuesday night at home when they exploded for 8 runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to secure a 10-4 victory.
The series is tied at 2-2 after four games being played. The Number 1 seed Rutherford County team just cannot put Mint Hill away. It’s been an unusual playoff match up between two different teams. Both clubs are undefeated at their respective home ball fields. Rutherford won the opening game 7-1, then lost to Mint Hill 10-5 in game two. In game three Rutherford blew out Mint Hill at home 11-0, then in game 4 Mint Hill would bounce back with a 10-4 victory at Independence High School Stadium.
The best of five series moves back to Rutherford County tonight for the final game with the winner moving on in the state tournament championship and the loser going home for the season. No matter the final outcome, the Mint Hill team, our local boys of summer can hold their heads high. There is a lot of fight and competitive spirit on this ball club. They have defeated the previously unbeaten tournament favorite Rutherford County team twice in the series giving them their only two losses all season to date.
That competitive spirit, determination and true grit showed up last night when Sun Valley High Schools Caleb Barwick walked to the mound to start the game. He started off shaky giving up 3 walks on 3-2 counts, he hit a batter for a run, then allowed a sacrifice fly before striking out the final Rutherford hitter on a hard rising fast ball.
He would then settle in not allowing a run until the sixth inning keeping his team in the game on a night when he did not have his best stuff. Barwick gave up 3 runs, on 3 hits, allowed 4 walks, and struck out 4 batters in 5 2/3 innings of work. His gutty performance inspired the team and did they ever respond with an explosion in the fifth inning.
Mint Hill tied the score 2-2 in the third inning when Bubba Comer singled, took second base, Matt Mangum walked, Noah Howie singled for an RBI, and Nick Melton hit a hard grounder up the middle to score Mangum with runners on the corners.
In the fifth with one out, Melton singled, Corbin Berkovics followed with a line drive single, Raja Milton singled, Ryan Mangum would walk, then Mitch Cope, Christian Ezell, Caleb Barwick, and Drew Harris would all smack RBI hits to take a 7-2 lead. Then with the bases loaded Melton would clear the bases with a double to left field giving Mint Hill a commanding 10-2 advantage as the home team batted around.
Relief hurler Jake McDaniel would enter the game to get the third out in the sixth inning. In the seventh the Independence High School reliever would give up a solo home run to Jake Laughter before getting the final out of the ball game.