Mustangs Lose to Lake Norman Charter
In the opening round of the state 1-A playoffs hosted by Lake Norman Charter at Huntersville’s Athletic Park, the North Moore baseball team got off to a fast start, thanks to senior pitcher Rider Maness.
With Maness driving in a run with a double in the first inning and then hitting a solo homer in the third frame, the Mustangs were up 3-0. But then North Moore’s bats went silent, with the Knights’ starting pitcher Jake Williams retiring the Mustangs three-up and three-down over the next four innings.
Meanwhile, Williams’ teammates used three hits to score three runs in the bottom of the fourth inning and added two more runs in the fifth, giving the home team a 5-3 victory.
The loss ends the Mustangs’ season with a 14-9 record.
There was a scary moment during the game in the bottom of the fifth inning when the Knights’ John Creel lined a ball to the pitcher’s mound, hitting Maness in the back of the head. Maness had to leave the lineup in what was his final game as a Mustang. He finished the game with a double, home run and two RBIs. On the mound, he pitched four and two-thirds innings, striking out one while giving up eight hits. Junior Dustin Morrison finished the game on the mound, pitching one and one-third innings, fanning one batter.
“Rider getting hurt was the turning point of the game,” said North Moore coach Brandon Reynolds. “He was due up to the plate in the next innings and he already had two hits and had driven in a couple of runs. Plus on the play he was injured, they were able to score a run. We just didn’t hit the ball today.
“I’m proud of this team, they didn’t give up.”
After going three-up and three-down during the fourth, fifth and sixth innings, the Mustangs tried to rally in the top of the seventh inning when they loaded the bases with one out, but the Knights pulled off a double play to end the game and the Mustangs’ season. North Moore ended the year by winning 10 out of its last 12 games.
The Mustangs appeared to have Williams’ number in the top of the first inning when they had a couple of hits and scored two runs out of the gate.
Leadoff batter, Cody Vaughn, drew a walk followed by a sacrifice bunt by Landon Auman. Maness doubled off the left-field wall, scoring Vaughn. After a groundout, Morrison had an RBI double into left field, scoring Maness. The inning ended when Morrison was caught trying to steal third base.
Maness blanked the Knights over the first three innings while North Moore scored in the third inning when Maness sent the ball over the left-field fence, staking his team to a 3-0 lead.
The Knights plated three runs in the bottom of the fourth inning and took the lead with a pair of runs in the fifth. After Maness’ solo homer, the Mustangs could muster only one more hit when Colton Yedkois hit a single down the left-field line in the seventh inning after Morrison had led off the inning with a walk.
Luke Auman advanced Morrison and Yedkois to third and second bases with a sacrifice bunt. Colton Troxler loaded the bases when he drew a walk The next batter hit a grounder to the third baseman, who started the game-ending double play with a throw to second.
“I’m proud of this team, we made a lot of progress during the season,” said Reynolds. “We started the season 2-5 and then started to put things together. Our goal at the start of the season was to finish in the top three in the conference and make the playoffs and we did both.
“We had a good group of seniors (Maness, Heath Carriker, Thomas Scott and Justin Marley). They contributed to the program and did a good job leading this team. I feel really good about the future with the group we have coming back and we have some good players coming up from the junior varsity. The program is in good shape.”
More like this story