Mint Hill Legion Sweeps Cleveland County 9-1, 8-5 continue win streak

Mint Hill hitter ready to smack a base hit. (Ed Berti)
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Mint Hill hitter strides into a pitch. (Ed Berti)
Bryce Gorospe delivers a pitch. (Ed Berti)
Abraham “Wheels” Williams beats out an infield hit. (Ed Berti)
Corbin Berkovics is out at first base after advancing a runner. (Ed Berti)
Mint Hill hitter about to jump on a pitch. (Ed Berti)
Ryan Mangum steals second base for Mint Hill. (Ed Berti)

The Mint Hill American Legion senior baseball club continues their winning ways with a convincing sweep of Cleveland County in a doubleheader at home.

In the opener, Sam Kagan the starter would go the distance and pitch a complete seven inning performance allowing just one run on three hits. In fact he had a perfect game going for almost four innings before allowing a walk in the fourth with two outs and a hit in the fifth inning. Eventually, Cleveland would scratch a run in the sixth on a couple of hits and an error to make the score 3-1 with Mint Hill in the lead and ready to come to bat in the bottom frame of the inning.

The locals would score a run to take a 5-1 lead.  However, in the sixth Mint Hill would put this ball game out of reach scoring five times with the big blow coming off of Kagan’s hugely productive bat when he would drill a liner into the right-center field gap driving in two runs to help his own cause.

In the seventh, he would put the Cleveland County hitters down in order for the complete game victory. While Matt Mangum, Ryan Mangum, Shane Russell, Caleb Embry, Owen Tappy, Bubba Comer, and other Mint Hill players all made a significant contribution offensively and defensively for the home team win.

Team -Game 1       1  2  3  4  5  6  7  R  H  E

Cleveland County   0  0  0  0  0  1  0  1  3  1

Mint Hill                0  0  0  3  1  5  X  9  6  0

In the Nightcap, it was a completely different kind of game. Mint Hill playing on their home field was the visiting team.

In the first inning, Caleb Embry drove a base hit into center, promptly stole second base and scored on a double by Sam Kagan into the left-center field gap giving Mint Hill an early 1-0 lead.

Cleveland County bounced back scoring a run off starter Bryce Gorospe to even the score after two innings of play.

In the third inning, Mint Hill would score two more runs on three hits with Ryan Mangum smacking a single up the middle, he would steal second base on the second pitch, then Kagan again would drive a double, this time down the right field line scoring Mangum. CJ Brown from Independence would deliver a base hit to center scoring Kagan for the RBI and a 3-1 lead.

Again, the visitors would bounce back scoring two runs in the fourth frame on multiple base hits a throwing error on a tapper down the third base line, the overthrow would put the runner on second base who would eventually score the second run of the inning on a knock to right field.

In the fifth, Kagan led-off with a single to center, on a hit an run play, Shane Russell hit a slow grounder toward short and was out by a step at first base on a close play. However, this put Kagan on second base. Abraham “Wheels” Williams would step into the batters box, and on a 3-2 count would drill a hard grounder up the middle with the shortstop diving to make a nice stop, but rushed his throw and could not get the speedy Williams at first base, as the ball sailed passed the first baseman Kagan scampered home to take a 4-3 lead. Williams was awarded a base hit, the shortstop a throwing error, which put him on second base. Matt Mangum would then hit a sharp grounder to short to end the inning.

In the sixth, Corbin Berkovics and Ben Walton would both walk, they were advanced to second and third, after a wild pitch Berkovics would score from third, Walton moved from second to third, then Ryan Mangum would hit a sacrifice fly to drive in the second run to empty the bases. Kagan would drill his third double of the game into right-center, the next batter Shane Russell blasted a home run deep over the left field fence to cap off all the scoring to give Mint Hill a 8-3 lead.

In the seventh, with Drew Harris on the mound Cleveland County scratched and clawed for 2 runs before Harris would get the final out of the ball game.

Bryce Gorosope went five innings to get the win and pitched competitively to get the big outs when he need them. Harris pitched a scoreless sixth inning, and ran into a little trouble in the seventh, however, settled down to earn the save in relief.

Sam Kagan led all hitters going 4-4 in the nightcap with 3 doubles and 3 RBI’s. Mr. Clutch had a big doubleheader pitching a complete game in the opener, hitting 4 doubles on the night going 6-8 with 5 RBI’s. While Shane Russell had the big blast to seal the nightcap  with a two run homer in the sixth to give Mint Hill a commanding lead heading into the final inning of competition.

Team – Game 2      1  2  3  4  5  6  7  R  H  E

Mint Hill                1  0  2  0  1  4  0  8  12  1

Cleveland County  0  1  0  2  0  0  2  5  11   1

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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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