Post 87 takes commanding 2-0 series lead
The Post 87 HiToms had a difficult time Monday in beating Burlington Post 63. Tuesday was much better.
Trevor Gay struck out 11 in five innings, while the Post 87 offense built a 9-0 lead through four innings before tacking on one final run in the bottom of the seventh for a 10-0 mercy-rule win at Finch Field to lead their first round-Area III playoff series 2-0.
“We’ve been saving him,” Post 87 coach Rob Shore said of Gay. “We need him to feel comfortable, and he did exactly what we needed him to do. He went out there and shut them down. Then, Bryce (Lance) came in and did his job too.
“At the plate, anytime you 10-run rule anybody, you’re doing your job. I was pleased all the way around. … Last night, (Post 63) went up 4-0. And when you’re battling from behind, it’s a different mindset. Tonight, we got some runs early and were a whole lot more relaxed.”
Gay, a recent graduate of High Point Central and incoming freshman at UNC Charlotte, pitched very well in his first start of the summer Legion season. He allowed only two runners into scoring position and retired the final seven batters he faced, striking out five.
Meanwhile, Post 87 struck for two runs in the first and two in the second on RBIs by Cesar Trejo, Hayden Manuel and Colin Rosenbaum before scoring five in the fourth when Ben Fischer tripled and scored, Zach McLean had an RBI double, and Ryan Hedrick hit a three-run homer.
“You can’t really ask anything more of a pitcher than to go out and throw 11 strikeouts,” said Hedrick, a recent graduate of Southern Guilford and incoming freshman at Presbyterian. “When everybody’s collectively hitting, it just feels really good. You can go up to the plate relaxed, knowing the guy behind you will pick you up if you don’t get on base. …
“Right before I came up (in the fourth), our coach was a little upset because our pitcher was throwing so good, but we only had four runs. He was like, ‘We need to go up there and start hitting the ball.’ We got two runs. Then, two more people got on, and I came up and hit that three-run home run – it felt really good.”
In the seventh, after reliever Bryce Lance retired six of the seven batters he faced, Post 87 loaded the bases on two walks and a single before pinch-hitter Greg White took a four-pitch walk to end the game via the 10-run rule and give Post 87 a commanding lead in the best-of-5 series.
Kevin Burns took the loss in 3 ⅔ innings for Post 63, which was led offensively by Caleb Robinson with two hits. McLean and Evan Edwards each had two hits for Post 87, while, in addition to Hedrick’s three, Manuel, Rosenbaum, Trejo, McLean and White each had one RBI.
“In American Legion baseball, whether you’re playing the low seed or the high seed, it’s really hard to beat anybody three times in one season,” Shore said. “And we’ve been able to beat these guys four out of four times. That’s saying a lot about what we’re doing.
“They’ve got a pretty good team. But for us to beat them four times in a row, we’re doing something right. And I’m very pleased with how we’re playing.”
The series will continue Wednesday at Burlington Post 63, which plays at Graham Middle. Ryan Kahny is scheduled to pitch for Post 87, which won game 1 7-5 on home runs by McLean and Levi Gesell in the ninth. If necessary, Thursday’s game will be at Finch Field.