LINCOLNTON — There would be no late-game rally for North Lincoln on Friday night.
That’s because the No. 2 seed Knights didn’t need one in their 10-0 victory over Wilkes Central in the second round of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 2A baseball playoffs.
After struggling against No. 31 Central Academy in its first-round game, which required a seventh-inning rally to advance, North Lincoln Head Coach Jon Carpenter was pleased to see the Knights (20-5) take care of business quickly Friday.
The game was called in the bottom of the fifth due to the mercy rule.
“We’ve played from behind a lot the last two years; they didn’t give up (on Tuesday) and they carried that one inning into tonight. That was our goal, to carry that one inning over into seven tonight and I think we got four good innings offensively,” said Carpenter. “Seth’s (Whitley) a special kid and he’s only a sophomore so I’m blessed to have him two more years.”
Whitley, who had an RBI double in the bottom of the third, allowed just four hits (all singles), no walks and struck out four in five innings of work.
The Knights scored in four of the five innings and had four of their 10 hits go for extra bases, including Jake Quilla’s solo home run in the bottom of the second for the first run of the game.
Quilla, a senior who came in batting over .400, went 2-for-3 with a pair of runs batted in.
“Jake’s a strong kid,” said Carpenter. “We’ve got pop one-through-nine and we just haven’t been able to put all of it together at the same time but we were able to tonight and hopefully they’ll continue to do that.”
But No. 15 Wilkes Central (17-7) had a golden opportunity to either tie or take the lead in the top of third when it loaded the bases with one out behind a Jonah Brooks single and infield singles from Hayden Dice and Noah Johnson.
Skylar Brooks was up next but grounded to third baseman Jack Carter, who threw home to force out Jonah Brooks. The Eagles would leave the bases loaded as Ethan Adams hit into a fielder’s choice to end the inning in what turned out to be Central’s only offensive threat of the game.
“I think the whole complexion of the game changes if something good happens there,” said Wilkes Central Head Coach Terry Johnson. “I think I’ve seen it one or two times where we don’t make something big happen, and the air kind of goes out of our sails a little bit and I think that might have happened.
“But it’s the playoffs, we got their best tonight and we didn’t do the things that we needed to do.”
Tuesday’s hero from the Knight’s 5-4 win over Central Academy, Jake Soorus had a pair of big plate appearances on Friday. The junior first gave the hosts a 7-0 lead after four innings with an RBI single.
After North Lincoln loaded the bases in the fifth, Landon Reeves tacked on another run with an RBI single. Reeves added a pair of hits for the Knights, who will host No. 23 West Stokes in the third round tonight.
Matt Heavener and Soorus drove in the game-deciding runs to end the Eagles’ season.
“We knew what we were going to see, we knew what arm we were going to see,” said Terry Johnson. “It wasn’t that we didn’t put the ball in play, we didn’t strikeout a lot, we just hit right at them and they made a play on it. Defensively, they were solid and they swung the bats well on offense.”
Landon Perry had the Eagles’ only other base hit of the game — a single to lead off the top of the fifth.
Noah Johnson took the loss as he allowed seven runs (four earned) on six hits with two walks and a strikeout in 3 ²⁄³ innings of work.