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Hickory Post 48 picked up an 11-4 road victory over Kings Mountain Post 155 on Wednesday, moving within one game of advancing to the second round of the Area IV playoffs.
Hickory (17-4) was led in victory by pitcher Ben Watson, who tossed a complete game and allowed eight hits, four runs (all earned), 10 walks and struck out 10 Kings Mountain batters.
"Ben was a warrior for us tonight, and his defense played very well behind him," said Post 48 coach Fore Rembert. "We ran the bases well and played hard all game. Kings Mountain battled hard and never quit."
Offensively, Post 48 was led by catcher Luke Barton, who drove in three RBIs on a 1-for-3 day at the plate.
Hickory spread out 12 hits in Wednesday's ball game, including three apiece from Tyler Pait and Phillip Carroll.
Post 48 pulled out to an early lead behind a six-run first inning, which included a Jordan Eckard RBI single, a Matt Ward RBI double and a Barton RBI sac fly.
Three Hickory players also scored on passed balls in the inning, including Colton Chapman, Eckard and Ward.
Trailing 6-0, Kings Mountain (3-13) scored for the first time in the bottom of the fifth on a bases-loaded walk.
After trading runs back-and-forth between one another in the waning innings of the game, Hickory closed out the contest with four runs in the top of the ninth inning, including a two-RBI single by Barton and a pair of RBI singles from Carroll and Pait.
Post 48 has a chance to close out the series when it welcomes Post 155 to Henkel-Alley Field for game three of the playoff series at 7 p.m. Thursday.
Wednesday's Area IV playoff scores
Hickory 11, Kings Mountain 4 (Hickory leads 2-0)
Shelby at Lincoln County, PPD (Shelby leads 1-0)
Queen City 2, Caldwell County 1 (Series tied 1-1)
Burke County 7, Union County 6 (Series tied 1-1)
Cherryville 7, Gastonia 3 (Cherryville leads 2-0)
Gaston Braves 12, Henderson County 4 (G-Braves leads 2-0)
Rutherford County 5, Mint Hill 3 (Series tied 1-1)
Huntersville 13, Asheville 5 Huntersville leads 2-0)