Jackets sting Scots for Sandhills 3A lead

Apr. 19—The skies opened up on Norman Oldham Stadium Tuesday night in the middle of the showdown for first place among the 3A teams in the Sandhills Athletic Conference, forcing Scotland to return to Lee County and finish the game Wednesday.

When play resumed, Yellow Jacket pitcher Blane McDonald pitched the four best innings of his LCHS career, and a two-out, two-RBI single in the fifth inning made him the winning pitcher as Lee claimed a 3-1 victory and took the top spot among the 3A teams in the SAC.

The Fighting Scots (8-7, 5-4 SAC) came into the game tied with Lee for first place among the 3A teams. The Sandhills is a split 3A/4A league, and the top team of each classification is treated as a conference champion for the purposes of playoff seeding. While Pinecrest is running away with the conference title, Lee, Scotland, Southern Lee and Union Pines are in the middle of the pack fighting for SAC 3A supremacy.

When the game started Tuesday, Lee County took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third after BJ Brown led off with a walk, then stole second and third bases with Walker McDuffie at the plate, McDuffie hit a long fly into right field and Brown scored.

The fourth inning had begun and Scotland had already tied the game when the bad weather arrived. Lee committed back-to-back errors to open the inning and then Thomas Taylor singled. A run was already in and the Scots had runners on the corners when the contest was postponed.

When Scotland returned the next day, McDonald had replaced Andrew Stanfield as the Lee pitcher. McDonald slammed the door shut with an infield popup, a strikeout, and a groundout, and the Scots left both runners on base.

Lee regained the lead in the fifth, and Brown sparked it again. The senior hit a line single off Scotland pitcher Robbie Peed with one out. He again stole second and third with McDuffie up, but this time, his teammate walked as well. Stanfield grounded out to third, but McDuffie was able to advance to second and stay out of the double play.

Miles looked at a strike, fouled the next pitch off, then grounded a single past the infield into left field, allowing both runners to score.

McDonald, who had allowed only a walk in the fifth, set down the Scots in order in the sixth. In the seventh, he whiffed the leadoff man and then got the second out on a grounder. With two down, Garrett Manning kept Scotland alive with a single to left, the first hit allowed by McDonald. Things looked ominous when the next Scotland batter reached on an error, extending the game. But with the potential lead run at the plate, Manning attempted to steal third base, and Miles, the Lee catcher, came up throwing. Luke Sheets applied the tag and the Jackets had the win.

Lee (13-6, 6-3 SAC) has a chance to pull clear of the Scots Friday night, when the teams play again in Laurinburg.