Dill fires Shelby County past Chelsea

Another Braten Dill start, another Shelby County victory.

Shelby County High School baseball coach Shane Beasley is enjoying the left-hander’s hot streak on the mound, which included another outstanding performance by the senior in the Wildcats’ 6-1 win over rival Chelsea in a key Class 5A, Area 8 game March 30.

Dill struck out 10 batters with only one walk as he held the Hornets to a two-hit shutout in six innings.

“(Dill) is having an awesome year,” Beasley said.

Evan McNeal provided plenty of support at the plate for the Wildcats, who improved to 16-5 overall and 4-2 in Class 5A, Area 8.

McNeal finished 3-for-4 with three singles and drove in two runs. Chad King went 1-for-2 with a triple and scored twice. Kevin McNorton finished 1-for-3 with a double and drove in a run.

McNorton closed the game with two strikeouts and two walks while allowing one run in the final inning.

The victory allows Shelby County to wrap up a spot in the Class 5A playoffs with a win over John Carroll and a split with Briarwood Christian in its remaining Area 8 games.

“We’re just excited about the chance of getting back into the playoffs,” Beasley said. “If we take care of business, we’re right where we need to be.”

Chelsea starting pitcher Josh Harkins had a solid outing for the Hornets. Chelsea, which had five errors defensively, didn’t give Harkins enough support, said first-year Chelsea coach Michael Stallings.

Harkins gave up only two earned runs on five hits with eight strikeouts and no walks in a complete game. Harkins hit three batters with a pitch.

“(Harkins) gave us a chance,” Stallings said. “We didn’t player very good defense behind him.”

John Calhoun went 1-for-3 with a single and a stolen base. Zac Harper finished 1-for-2 with a double, a stolen base and a run scored.

The Wildcats scored two runs in the top of the first inning. King led off with a triple and scored on a passed ball. McNeal singled and later scored on a sacrifice fly by Garrett Sellers.

Shelby County added another run in the top of the third inning. McNeal singled and scored on McNorton’s RBI double to center field.

The Wildcats added another run in the fifth inning. King was hit by a pitch and later scored on a Chelsea fielding error. Shelby County added its final two runs in the sixth inning as Bailey Benton and Dylan Gambrell each reached on an error and scored on a two-run single by McNeal.

Chelsea scored its only run in the seventh inning. McNorton issued a walk to Harper, who scored on a Shelby County fielding error.

The Hornets (7-16, 2-4 in Class 5A, Area 8) need to sweep John Carroll and take a third game against Briarwood Christian to remain in the hunt for a playoff berth.

“We’re in a situation where we’ve got to win,” Stallings said.