The Mint Hill Senior American Legion baseball team showed how they can dominate a game early and apply the finishing touches in the late innings to capture an impressive 8-1 win over Lincoln County on Saturday night improving their record to 6-3 on the season.
Mint Hill starter Corbin Berkovics, a former Independence standout and now UNCC first-year student pitched five solid innings for the home team. He had his breaking ball working for him and would throw both a fastball with good velocity to keep the Lincoln hitters off balance.
In the first inning, the Cardinals from Lincoln were able to get the first two batters on base on a seeing-eye single, and a little flair over third base, however, Berkovics would bear down and strike out the next batter, the next hitter would drill a solid single to center field, the outfielder Bubba Comer aggressively played the ball on one hop, and would promptly gun down the runner from second base at home plate for the second out. Berkovics would take care of business and strike out the next batter to prevent any damage.
In the bottom half of the inning, Mint Hill would take a 1-0 lead when Comer led-off with a double to left, Ryan Mangum laid down a perfect bunt for a single, and with the bases loaded with one out, the catcher tried to pick-off the runner on second base, which is not a high percentage play, Comer sprinted home scoring easily with his speed.
In the third inning, Michael Dansky, the Providence standout bound for Wingate University doubled off the wall on a one-hopper to left-center, with two outs, Owen Tappy, heading to Hampton-Sydney College would drive the first pitch fastball deep over the left field fence for a two-run homer. Shane Russell, from Charlotte Christian who is Cornell University-bound, would hit a line drive base hit to center, Independence All-Conference player Raja Milton, who is going to college on a basketball scholarship would drill a long drive off the right-centerfield fence for a double scoring Russell to give Mint Hill a 4-1 lead after three innings of play.
In the fourth, Brendan Smith from Providence Day would lead off with a base hit, then Mangum, Dansky and Matthew Mangum would all work a base on balls to walk in a run, a wild pitch would score the second run, again Russell would walk on a 3-2 pitch to load up the bases. That man from Independence Milton steps into the batter’s box, on a 2-1 fastball, he would turn on the pitch and drive it one hop off the right-field fence for his second double and two more RBI’s giving the home team a commanding 8-1 lead.
Meanwhile, Berkovics was sailing and finished up his outing on the mound with the attitude of throwing strikes. He gave up a single, but all three outs came on two pop-outs on the infield, and a lazy fly ball to centerfield.
In the sixth, Dansky would take over on the mound to carry Mint Hill the rest of the way. He pitched two solid innings in relief, however, had a little adventure when he walked the first two batters on full counts, was able to get a ground ball out on a force play at second putting runners on the corners, he would strike out the next hitter for the second out, then the next batter would smack a long drive down the left field line in fair territory and Independence C J Brown would make a fine one-handed running catch over his shoulder a couple of feet from the fence to end the threat.
In the seventh, Dansky after giving up an infield hit remained focused to get the next three batters including his second strike-out in his relief effort, with the final out of the game on a comebacker to the mound.
Mint Hill has a busy week with a lot of home games, Monday night June 17th, Huntersville, June 21st, Union County, June 22nd, Maiden. All games have a 7 pm start, so come out and enjoy some excellent baseball, cheer for the home team as the “Boys of Summer” continue their quest to qualify for the playoffs which eventually leads to the American Legion World Series.
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
Lincoln 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 5 2
Mint Hill 1 0 3 4 0 0 0 8 11 2