Patriots put away Cavs
On a chilly opening night at Southern Lee, it was still close enough to spring for the start of baseball season Friday night. Pinecrest though, spoiled the evening for the Cavaliers and won its second game in three nights to open the season, beating the Cavs 5-1.
Coming in off a 16-6 win against county rival Union Pines on Wednesday, the Patriots didn’t need as much slugging to get to 2-0. The Cavaliers led 1-0 going to the third inning only for six walks and one hit to add up to a four-run Patriot frame.
Southern Lee edged ahead against Pinecrest starter Matt Epley in the first. Ethan Helsman drove a shot over the center fielder’s head for a two-out triple, then came in to score on a third strike/passed ball which allowed Derek Jackson to reach base.
Walks to Connor Gaines and Cullen Boyette loaded the bases and gave the Cavs five base runners in the first inning, after Jared Kehagias led off with a single but proceeded to get picked off before Helsman’s triple. The Patriots held the Cavs to the single tally, then survived giving up two walks to start the bottom of the second.
The Cavaliers and their starting pitcher, Gaines, weren’t so fortunate. Gaines walked four of the first five Patriots he faced in the third.
After a strikeout for the second out, Gaines got within a strike of escaping his self-made danger with a 1-1 score. On an 0-2 pitch, Epley shot a sharp single through the right side of the infield plating two runs.
After another walk, Christian Wenger came on to relieve Gaines. Wenger walked the first batter he faced, making it 4-1 Patriots, before ending the inning.
Aaron Reimer kept Pinecrest’s lead quite safe from there, allowing one hit and one walk after coming in for Epley during the second inning. Reimer (2-0) also got the win against Union Pines.
Wenger pitched 2.1 innings for the Cavs, allowing two hits and one run while striking out three. Caleb Gaster pitched the last 2.0 innings giving up a hit and no walks while striking out three.
Dylan Wallace and Epley had two RBI each for the Patriots. Helsman went 2-for-3 as the Cavs totaled three hits.
Pinecrest looks ahead to three games in four days next week starting Tuesday at Sanderson at 5 p.m.
Southern Lee (0-1) hosts Northwood Tuesday at 7 p.m. before starting Cape Fear Valley Conference play at Western Harnett Friday night.