Mint Hill Senior Legion Falls to Gastonia Post 7-3

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Gastonia Post 23 scored 3 runs in the top of the ninth inning to secure a key win in Senior American Legion baseball competition at Independence High School Stadium on Friday night.

Gastonia runner is safe at third base.

Starting pitcher Nick Melton from Independence High had a solid outing against a resilient Gastonia team.  He pitched 6 1/3 innings allowing 2 earned runs on 6 hits while recording 3 strikeouts and 3 walks for his effort.

During the first three innings no runs crossed home plate.  However, in the top of the fourth inning Gastonia managed two hits combined with a wild pitch were able to scratch out a run when Wes Summer found a hole between third and short for a 1-0 lead.

Mint Hill pitcher Jake McDaniel delivers a pitch in the ninth inning.

In the fifth Melton allowed 2 of his three walks, and added his second wild pitch bouncing in front of home plate putting runners on second and third.  With one out a grounder to second base drove in another run making the score a 2-0.

In the home fifth Christian Ezell walked, with one out Mitchell Cope singled, Trey Archer followed with a single loading the bases, Nate Brown contributed an infield hit driving in the runner from third making the score 2-1.  The Gastonia starter Garret Sutton settled down to get the next two outs without any further damage.

Gastonia runner is out at first base.

Melton put down the visitors in order in the sixth.  Meanwhile, Mint Hill’s Cooper Fandel was hit by a pitch, after Kobe Phillips flied deep to center, Christian Ezell singled putting runners on first and second, Matt Mangum followed with another single to load the bases.  Will Franklin hit a sharp grounder to third that was mishandled scoring Fandel to tie the score.  Mitchell Cope’s nicely executed bunt scored Ezell from third to give Mint Hill a 3-2 advantage.

In the seventh Gastonia led off with a single, the next batter hit a grounder to shortstop for a possible double play, however, the throw went over the head of the second baseman putting runners on second and third.  The next batter hit a sacrifice fly to right field scoring the runner from third and advancing the runner from second to third.  After a pitch in the dirt getting threw the catcher, the runner scored from third base for the second run of the inning.  The next hitter reached first base off of relief pitcher Heath McKay, on the first pitch the batter smacked a line drive to Shortstop Mitchell Cope who threw to first in time to get the base runner for a double play to end the inning.

Throw from right fielder Noah Howie beats Gastonia runner at second base.

In the ninth inning Mint Hill used three pitchers McKay, Will Franklin and Jake McDaniel to try and shut down Gastonia, however, the Post 23 scored 3 runs on 2 hits, 1 error, and 2 walks the visitors now had a commanding 7-3 lead.

With relief pitcher Jack Lowery on the mound in the ninth Trey Archer reached on an error, but Lowery remained focused and struck out Brown and Mcinstry.  Cooper Fandel hit a sharp grounder back at the pitcher to end the game.

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