Hickory advances to Area IV title series

Down 2-1 in the fourth inning, Hickory scored six runs in three innings on Thursday to defeat Caldwell County, 7-2, in game four of a best-of-five series.Post 48 (19-9) advances to the Area IV championship series.

Leading the way were a trio of Hickory hitters, including Jeremy Null, Jacob Hoyle and Cameron Beard. The three combined for all seven RBIs in the game.

Post 48 (19-9) struck first in the bottom of the second inning. With two outs, Hoyle and Null doubled on back-to-back innings to put Post 48 ahead 1-0 after one inning.

Caldwell County (20-12) tied the game up in the top of the third inning on three hits. Dylan Poarch led off the inning with a single. Max Linville singled on the next at-bat to put runners on first and second.

A third single by left fielder Blake Johnson scored both runners to give his team a 2-1 lead after three innings.

A strong offensive inning by Post 48 in the bottom of the fourth inning propelled them back into the lead. Null, Cameron Beard and Stefan Jordan singled on three straight at-bats to start the inning. Robert Whaley brought in the first run by drawing a walk.

Kyle Johnson flew out to center field for the first out of the inning, but plated Beard from third base. However, Hickory did not take advantage of two more runners on base, as Caldwell County got out of the inning with minimal damage.

Hoyle and Beard added to Post 48’s lead in the bottom of the sixth inning with a pair of two-RBI singles. Hoyle had the first of those singles with two outs in the inning. His hit plated Skyler Hollar and Cole McGraw. Beard's two-RBI single scored Null and Hoyle to make it a 7-2 game.

While the Post 48 bats were hot, the Caldwell County offense was cold late in the game. McGraw retired his final eight batters in his six-inning appearance. He struck out four batters, and allowed five hits and two earned runs in a victory.

McGraw was replaced by Hoyle in the seventh inning, who retired another two batters, extending the streak to 10 straight Post 29 batters retired.

Hoyle got into a bases loaded jam later in the inning, but a strikeout of Johnson ended the inning with no runs allowed.

An ejection of coach Brandon Banks lit a small fire under Post 29. Caldwell pitcher Jacob Hatton struck out the side in the order in the bottom of the seventh, but the momentum ended after that inning and Caldwell County could not score to eat into the five-run lead.

Hickory will take on Cherryville (24-6), the No. 1 team from the West, who defeated Queen City on Wednesday, 11-5, to advance to the championship series. The series is scheduled to start Saturday and continue through Monday in Morehead City at 7 p.m.