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Lynchburg-Clay Mustangs advance to district finals

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Lynchburg-Clay pitcher Cole Wells is pictured during the Mustangs' sectional final win last week. (HCP Photo/Stephen Forsha)
Stephen Forsha, The Highland County Press

The battle of the Southern Hills Athletic Conference in the Division III SE District Semifinals went to the Lynchburg-Clay Mustangs, as they used nine hits to send themselves to the district finals, defeating the SHAC champion Eastern Warriors, 5-1 at Ohio University. 

The Mustangs (15-8) and the Warriors split their two regular-season matchups when EHS defeated Lynchburg-Clay 7-5 on April 22, only to see LCHS win on April 23 by a 7-6 score.

One month to the day later, the Mustangs won the game that mattered the most between the two SHAC Division I rivals, as LCHS came back from trailing 1-0 to leading by a 2-1 score after a two-run top of the fourth, and they sealed the win with a three-run sixth inning. Eastern’s lone run crossed home plate in the bottom of the third. 

Eastern (18-5) put their only run on the board when Jaidon Florence scored on a sacrifice fly hit to centerfield by Wyatt Haupt for an early 1-0 lead over LCHS. 

Lynchburg-Clay’s top of the fourth began with an Elam Faust lead-off double to right field on a 1-2 count, followed by a one-out triple by Cole Wells as he tripled to right field, scoring Faust, and in the same sequence, an error in right field allowed Wells to score for the 2-1 lead. 

The three-run top of the sixth began with an out for LCHS, followed by Wells hitting a one-out single to left field. Next was a Trevor Niehaus base hit to left field, moving Wells to second base. 

LCHS scored two runs on the ensuing at-bat as Braedon West singled to right field, scoring Wells and moving Niehaus to third. On the throw home, an error occurred, allowing Niehaus to score from third base for a 4-1 lead. The final run of the game — and the third of the inning – came with West scoring on a wild pitch from third base for the final 5-1 lead. 

Wells was also the pitcher for the Mustangs, as he got the first two batters out in the bottom of the seventh with a pop up to second base and a swinging strikeout. Eastern threatened with two base runners off back-to-back singles, but the game ended on a fielder’s choice. 

In the winning effort, Wells threw 92 pitches, 69 for strikes, pitching a complete game and gaining his second win this postseason. Wells pitched seven innings, allowing one run (unearned) on seven hits and no walks with eight strikeouts. 

At the plate for LCHS, Faust, Wells and Niehaus each collected two hits. Faust was 2-for-4 with a double and one run. Wells went 2-for-3 with a triple, two runs, one RBI and a walk. Niehaus finished the game at 2-for-4 with a run. 

West was 1-for-3 with a run and one RBI. Austin Bell went 1-for-3 with a steal, and Isaac Eyre was 1-for-3. Josiah Burns was hit by a pitch. 

The win improves the Mustangs to 15-8 overall, and they will play in the district finals on Friday, May 24 against Portsmouth, back at Ohio University at 5 p.m. 

    000 203 0 — 5 9 1 
EHS    001 000 0 — 1 7 2

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