Shelby’s Grant Byers was the story of the night as he struck out 14 R-S Central Hilltoppers en route to a 5-1 win for the Golden Lions on a frigid Tuesday night in Rutherfordton.
Central mustered just one hit on the night while committing four costly errors, three of which came in the first inning.
“We had a rough first inning and got off to a bad start,” Central head coach Chadd Fowler said after the contest. “Byers was the story. He dominated us all night.”
Shelby used a big first inning to jump ahead of the Hilltoppers as Central struggled on defense.
Back-to-back errors put Shelby runners on second and third base and the Golden Lions took advantage and scored them both. A Byers single scored another run to send Shelby up 3-0.
One more Central error allowed another Shelby run but the bleeding stopped there with a 4-0 Shelby lead.
“When you spot a good team four runs it’s hard to come back from,” Fowler said.
Byers took the mound for Shelby in the bottom half of the frame and struck out three Hilltoppers in a row to begin his dominant night.
Central starter Dustin McEntire found himself in another jam in the second with the bases loaded and just one out. Luckily, the Hilltoppers turned a 5-2-3 double play to end the inning untouched.
An RBI fielder’s choice by Shelby’s Bradford Lail in the third inning was good for Shelby’s fifth run of the night.
Central finally got a baserunner against Byers in the bottom of the fourth when Tyler Morgan and Lance Greene drew consecutive walks. Unfortunately, the threat ended when Lail corralled a wild pitch and threw out Greene attempting to swipe second base.
Will Owens broke up Byers’ no-hit bid with a single up the middle of the infield but the batters to follow couldn’t bring him in.
Josh Hendrix took the mound for Central in the seventh and held the Golden Lions to just one run allowing Central to stay within striking distance.
In the bottom half of the seventh, Jacob Struble sparked a Central rally with a one-out walk. From there, McEntire reached on a throwing error as Struble came around to score Central’s only of the game.
Central managed to load the bases with two outs but couldn’t plate any runs to extend the game.
Central hits the road Thursday for a 7:30 p.m.battle with SMAC foe Burns.
“We’ll see how we bounce back,” Fowler said. “It’ll be a good test and we’ll see what kind of character this team has.”
SOFTBALL: Lady Hilltoppers down Shelby, 8-2
RUTHERFORDTON — In her first high school start on the mound, R-S Central’s Shelby Smith struck out eight batters as Central defeated Shelby 8-2 Tuesday night at home.
“Shelby did an excellent job and threw strikes all day long,” Central head coach Melvin Digh said after the win. “I can’t say enough good things about her right now.”
Central (2-8, 1-4 SMAC) scored three runs in the second and exploded for five more in the fourth to put away the Golden Lions.
“I can’t remember the last time we had those big innings,” Digh said. “There’s no reason we can’t have them more often. We really have some girls that can hit the ball. It’s just a matter of getting it going.”
Makayla led the offensive attack for Central going 2-3 including a triple with three RBIs on the night.
Central is Thursday at Burns for a 4:30 p.m. start.