HICKORY FLAT- The Hickory Flat Rebels hosted the Falkner Eagles on Tuesday night in a matchup between a pair of teams that have qualified for the Class 1A baseball playoffs that begin on April 29. Despite being a back and forth affair early, the Rebels were able to pull away late for the decisive 15-5 win, their fifth straight victory.
“We started off slow, but later in the game we started getting a few hits,” Rebels head coach Nolan Stevens said postgame. “Strung together a few hits that led to runs. Lot of two-out hits. That’s what we’ve been doing lately and hopefully we can keep it up, getting big time hits in big time situations.”
The Rebels (13-9, 5-1) got off to a good start on the mound, as starting pitcher Logan King struck out the side in the top of the first. Hickory Flat led off the bottom of the first with a Chris Smith double and a Hunter Kuhl walk before Falkner starter Bricen Stroupe struck out two and forced a fly-out to retire the side.
Hickory Flat struck first on the scoreboard in the second inning, as the Rebels scored on a walk as well as a King RBI-single. Falkner quickly responded with a three-run top of the third, highlighted by a Stroupe RBI-double. Hickory Flat tied the game back up in the bottom of the frame thanks to a Hunter Davis RBI-single.
A Smith leadoff home-run in the bottom of the fourth scored the first of five Rebel runs in the inning, creating a sizable 8-3 lead for Hickory Flat. The Eagles responded with a pair of runs in the top of the fifth, however the Rebels emphatically put the game away with a five-hit, seven-run bottom of the fifth to take the 15-5 victory.
Smith, King, Davis, and Hunter Courson all picked up a pair of hits, with King and Courson picking up three RBIs apiece. King pitched four innings, giving up no ERs on two hits with seven strikeouts. Hunter Griffin went two of four at the plate for the Eagles.
The win for the Rebels comes as earlier last week, Hickory Flat took the division 3-1A baseball title, giving the Rebels plenty of momentum heading into the 1A state playoffs.
“I’m glad for the guys, they’ve earned it,” Coach Stevens said. “They’ve been working hard for that division championship. I’m glad for them, but they know that’s just one step into what we’re trying to do, and they know that’s the first step in what’s to come for us.”