Kelly's two HRs lifts Hickory past Kings Mountain
Kyle Kelly made the best of his first appearance at the plate for Post 48 on Saturday.
Kelly connected on two home runs in his five at bats of the season against Kings Mountain, helping lead Hickory to a 8-4 road victory.
Entering Saturday, Kelly had played in three games — all on the mound as a pitcher.
Post 48 coach Fore Rembert made the decision before Saturday's contest to insert Kelly into the line up as a first baseman — Kelly's first outing this season as a position player.
"Kyle has got a lot of power," Rembert said. "He's a good kid. He works really hard. He is a very good teammate. The kids like him. He does whatever he is asked to do. Tonight, he got the start at first base. He is a first-year player. A lot of times, we have to see what our kids can and cannot do in situation games. That is what is great about non-conference games. We can see what our kids can do. He did a great job. He really did."
Kelly's mentality for Saturday's game was simple.
"Do the best I can," he said. "When you are called upon, you do the best you can with what you've got. I come out here and play as hard as I can every single day. Today, it paid off."
Three errors by the Kings Mountain defense in the top of the third inning allowed Hickory (6-3) to take command of the game with a 2-0 lead.
Kelly's first blast — a solo shot in the top of the second inning — came on the first pitch he saw off Post 155 pitcher Hunter Stinnett.
"I told him to get in there, get a good cut, take that outer half away and see if he can get one out of here," Rembert said of his message to Kelly before his first plate appearance. "Low and behold, he killed that thing. I was just trying to encourage him. He had a good game. He also played good defense at first base. He was very aware."
Kings Mountain (2-3) got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the fifth on a sacrifice fly by Kevin Mills
The Hickory offense answered in the next half-inning with two runs, including RBIs single by Phillip Carroll and Tyler Pait.
Hickory starting pitcher MacLindsay Mitchell has a solid second start of the season on Saturday.
Mitchell allowed five hits, four runs, three walks and struck out seven Kings Mountain batters in five innings.
Ben Watson replaced Mitchell in the sixth inning and closed out the game's final five innings.
"I thought our pitching was very good," Rembert said. "MacLindsay, for as young as he is, did a wonderful job. Ben came in and did what he does. He is a good pitcher. He has three years of experience with us. We trust him. He can pitch on 30 seconds of rest. It's the craziest thing in the world. He can throw 10 innings one night and come back two days later."
Not only did Post 48's pitching have a solid day, but so did its offense at the plate and runners on base.
Hickory leadoff hitter Davis Hanvey reached base five times — four of them on walks — while the team's No. 2 batter, Jordan Eckard, stole three bases.
"What we are trying to do is look at quality at bats," Rembert said of his team's approach on offense. "We talked a little bit about that in our team meeting after the game. Also, we look at what we are doing on bases. What are we doing to get to the next base so we can get into position? Jordan is a good, smart base runner. All of our kids are, but Jordan did a good job. He is playing very good heads-up baseball right now. He is going to do wonderful things here for us."
Post 455 got as close as 5-4 in the bottom of the sixth inning with a two-RBI double by Brandon Bell and a RBI single from Cameron Bullock.
Kelly added his second homer and a pair of insurance runs in the top of the ninth to help Hickory seal its non-league victory.
After Aaron Rudisill reached base on a single and advanced to second on a wild pitch, Kelly drove a ball deep over the right field wall on a full count.
"That second home run was just in my spot," Kelly said. "If it's in my 'A zone,' I've got to hit it. I didn't expect it, but it was nice. I really liked it."
Hickory Post 48 tries to extend its win streak to five on Saturday when it hosts Hammond Post 3 (Tenn.) in a 2 p.m. doubleheader.