It couldn't have been more dramatic. Graham Smiley, who had earlier had a double driving in a run, hit a homer in the top of the seventh to give the East Lincoln Mustangs a 5-2 lead over West Stokes. But the home team scored two in the bottom of the final inning, so that home run became the winning run in a 5-4 victory for East. The Mustangs will now play at home Thursday evening against Ledford High School from Thomasville after the Panthers won their first round game over North Davidson.
Winning pitcher Jordan Fisher made it six-and-two-thirds innings despite control problems, but needed help to close. Logan Palmer got the save, giving up one more Panthers hit before getting the final out.
Fisher had three wild pitches and hit two batters with pitches. He walked four batters. But he also struck out six, and only two of the opponents' four runs were earned.
In addition to his hitting, Smiley did a stellar job behind the plate; he threw out the only West Stokes runner who attempted to steal and avoided any passed balls.
Garrett Michel had a great game not hitting--instead he walked twice and scored a run both times. Matthew McCowan scored on an errant pick-off attempt. Aside from Smiley, the Mustangs only hit was by Landon Burns, who went one for three. Logan Craig scored the other Mustangs run after he walked.
East is now 14-1 on the season. The Thomasville Ledford team they'll face Thursday night at ELHS is 11-3. Their win over North Davidson could be called an upset; Ledford was seeded #16 and the Black Knights #1 in the west region, but the two, both from the Central Carolina Conference, had met twice during the regular season. Ledford won the first of those games 6-4, then lost the second 5-4 in the final regular season game. They beat the Black Knights 7-5 on Tuesday.
North Lincoln wasn't as fortunate in their game at R-S Central. The Hilltoppers won that game 3-1 ending the Knights' season. R-S Central, top team in the Southwest Conference, will now face the #2 team from that league, Belmont South Point, on Thursday. In two regular season games, they beat the Red Raiders 4-3 and 7-6.
Other teams from this area in the 2A playoffs included Fred T. Foard. The Tigers' season ended with a 17-2 drubbing by West Wilkes. The Bunker Hill Bears also saw their season end with an 8-0 loss to Forbush.
Lincoln Charter's trip to Greensboro turned out well. The Eagles beat Cornerstone Academy 6-0 Tuesday to advance to a second round game at home Thursday night against North Moore.
Winning pitcher Mason Smith helped his own cause with a solo homer and Davis Al-Hussaini had a home run and a double going two for three. He also walked, and had three RBIs while scoring twoof his team's runs. Cole Nelson didn't have a hit, but he drew two walks and scored twice.
On the mound, Smith, who went wire to wire, limited the Cardinals to a single hit, walked only one batter, and struck out 11.
The Eagles scored two in the top of the third inning, and with Smith's pitching, that was enough, but they added four more in the top of the 7th.
North Moore beat Polk County Tuesday in Columbus 8-7 to advance to the second round.
Even though Lincoln Charter and Cherryville finished tied for the Southern Piedmont Conference championship, the Ironmen got the better seed for the playoffs. They played at home Tuesday and downed Pine Lake Prep 6-5, but their next game will now be on the road at East Surry Thursday evening.
The team from Pilot Mtn. beat Community School of Davidson Tuesday 3-2.
For the Ironmen, it was a nail-biter of a come-from-behind win. They trailed 5-2 going into the final inning, and the home team was down to its final out before rallying to win. A pair of bases on balls put Christian Hahn at the plate and a hit-and-run tied the game at 5-all. Then Ty Heavner hit a grounder to left field to score Hahn for the game-winning run.
Cherryville outhit their opponents 10-6 and took advantage of nine walks and four stolen bases. Freshman Eli Newsome gave up four of those hits and the five runs--only three of them earned. Sophomore Kanon Willis went four innings allowing only two hits and no runs while striking out four. The Ironmen and East Surry are both now 14-1.
Mtn. Island Charter advanced to the second round of the 1A playoffs with a 3-2 win over North Stanly. They'll now travel to Hayesville for a second round game Thursday.
Both Crest and Kings Mtn. lost their games Tuesday, eliminating them from the 3A playoffs. The Chargers suffered their first defeat of the year after a dozen wins as North Henderson prevailed 6-3. Kings Mtn. fell to Cox Mill 9-4.