Polk Middle's Brantley Hall slides into home to score a run in the fifth inning of Wednesday's game

Alston Rikard couldn’t stop smiling Wednesday.

A grin broke across his face as Polk Middle took a one-run lead Wednesday in its home opener. It grew wider as the Wolverines pushed across four runs in the fifth inning to extend their advantage.

And it darn near spread ear to ear as Polk Middle completed an 8-3 victory over Hendersonville Middle at Polk County Recreation Complex.

The smile contained a mix of pride and joy for his team, which has begun to find its footing after a rough 0-3 start to the season.

“The boys come back from a tough loss on Monday (10-5 at Apple Valley), put in the work yesterday, super proud of their effort, and came out here and reaped the rewards of their efforts,” Rikard said.

“I can’t be more proud of all of them.”

Polk took a 4-3 lead in the third inning, with Gavin Waldbillig drawing a walk, Simms Harris lashing a base hit and Brantly Hall adding another single to spark that rally.

Callaway Cameron was hit by a pitch to open the fifth inning, followed by an error on a Hall one-out grounder. Matt Foy, Carter Wood and Nate Fagan followed with consecutive singles to push the Polk lead to 7-3.

With Wood at third and Fagan at second, Matthew Jarrett dropped a bunt. Hendersonville’s defense was able to field that and retire Wood at home, but then milled about the infield and left home plate unguarded. That allowed Fagan to sprint home from third for Polk’s final run.

Fagan finished 3-for-3 and also earned the win, pitching five innings, striking out seven while allowing just two hits. Simms Harris came on in relief and pitched a scoreless sixth, with Fagan turning an unassisted double play at shortstop to close the game.

“Nate pitched an absolute shutout of a game,” Rikard said. “Simms came in, closed the door. Our defense executed, not nearly as many errors as last game, and I’m very happy with our improved hitting.

“I can’t be more proud of my boys. They deserve every bit of the credit.”

Jarrett, Harris, Hall, Foy and Wood each added base hits for the Wolverine.

Polk Middle will look to make it two straight on Monday, hosting Flat Rock Middle at 4:30 p.m.

Polk Middle’s Callaway Cameron takes a pitch to the back to lead off the fifth inning of Wednesday’s game