Jackets pummel Hoke, stay unbeaten

Mar. 14—The first three batters of the game reached base for Hoke County on Tuesday night against Lee County, and that put the Yellow Jackets in a quick early hole against last year's Sandhills Athletic Conference cellar-dwellers.

But that just made the Jackets mad. And you make yellow jackets mad at your own peril.

After a leadoff walk, a wild-pitch strikeout, and a single staked the Bucks to a 1-0 lead, Lee County responded with a nifty 3-5 double play turned by first baseman Blake Carlyle throwing across the diamond to Landon Miles, and that was it for the Bucks. Seth Beal struck out the next batter to end the inning.

The Jackets scored three runs in the bottom of the first to take the lead, added five more in the third, then tacked on two in the fourth and one in the fifth. With one down in the fifth, Luke Sheets doubled to left for his third hit of the game, then stole third base. BJ Brown drove Sheets in with a ground ball for the walk-off, mercy-rule win.

Beal needed just 52 pitches to complete a two-hitter with five strikeouts.

Lee, now 5-0 overall and 3-0 in SAC play, came into the game as the top-ranked team in the 3A East according to MaxPreps, although not every team in the state has yet played enough games to be rated. However, it's unlikely the Bucks would argue the point.

Sheets led off the Lee half of the first inning with a single. With one down, Andrew Stanfield walked and Sheets stole third base. He scored on a lineout by Carlyle to tie the score. Stanfield ended up scoring on a wild pitch. Walker McDuffie doubled and scored on an RBI single by Joshua Hall.

In the third, Stanfield led off with a single and scored on a double by Hall. Miles followed with an RBI single, and after a man reached on an error, Sheets singled to drive a run. The inning ended with the Yellow Jackets on top 8-1.

Carlyle, McDuffie, and Miles all had hits in the fourth as Lee extended the lead to 10-1.

Sheets led everyone, going 3-for-4 with two runs scored and an RBI. Hall was 2-for-2 with two runs scored and two RBI. McDuffie went 2-for-3 with three runs scored, and Miles was 2-for-3 with a run scored and two RBI.

Lee hosted Pine Forest, the fifth-ranked 4A team in the East, in a late Wednesday clash of unbeaten teams. The Jackets will travel to Hoke on Friday night.