By LOGAN DARNELL
For the Coal Valley News
HAMLIN - Van baseball (0-9) played Lincoln County High School (5-7) on April 10, the second game played by the two teams since the season opener in Wharton, where the visiting Panthers took the game 13-0.
Junior Matthew Slone pitched the game for Lincoln County, while senior Jarod Puckett started for Van.
Senior Caleb Price reached base on an error in Van's favor, but was stranded on first as the side retired. In the bottom of the inning, sophomore second baseman Trace Adkins singled and stole the second and third bases during senior shortstop David McKinney's at-bat. A fielding error helped him reach first, while Adkins ran home for the first run of the game.
The second and third runs came when junior Matthew Slone singled on a line drive to center field, bringing home McKinney and junior first baseman Nathan Vance, who previously walked.
A sacrifice fly by junior Austin Parsons advanced sophomore Eli Brogan from third to home, 4-0.
In the bottom of the second, sophomore Kalen Booth relieved Puckett. Senior Jaylin Barnett was hit by a pitch before Trace Adkins was walked. The former ran home on a groundout by McKinney, while Adkins scored on a passed ball, 6-0.
With two outs in the top of the third inning, senior Jacob Smith singled on a line drive to second base, but he was left on base after a strikeout.
Lincoln County High School scored five runs in their half, with senior Caleb McClure hitting an RBI single for Parsons, McKinney hitting an RBI double for McClure, and junior Eli Kirkendoll hitting a three-run home run with Trace Adkins and McKinney on base. The score at the end of the third read 11-0.
Caleb Price took over to close out the game. The Panthers kept a good momentum going in the bottom of the fourth, with two singles and a hit batter putting Brogan, Parsons, and senior Zachary Byrd on the bases.
Freshman Austin Adkins walked, with Brogan scoring the 12th run. Parsons scored run 13 on a groundout from Trace Adkins, and McKinney walked to load the bases again. Freshman pinch hitter Drew McCloud singled for Bird to score, 14-0. Austin Adkins made it home on a groundball single by junior Nathan Vance, and McKinney scored the 16th and final run on a walk by Brogan.
Three strikeouts in the top of the fifth retired the side and ended the game, with the home team sending Van off with a shutout.
Coach Stephen Price explained the work that is yet to be done this season.
"We have been playing better as of late," says Price, who has been steadily improving the team's hitting and pitching. Price added that fielding has been the most suspect for the team, and that the Lincoln County game was a step backward.
Kalen Booth recorded four strikeouts to lead Van's pitching. Eli Kirkendoll and Eli Brogan each went 2-for-3 to lead the Panthers, with Kirkendoll tallying 3 RBIs to lead the team.
Van (0-10) plays Liberty-Raleigh (3-10) away at 5:30 p.m. on April 18, while LCHS (7-7) hosts Tug Valley (3-11) for a doubleheader starting at 11 a.m.