HAMLET — The early season struggles for the Hamlet Post 49 baseball team continued Thursday.
Hosting Wilmington Post 10, Hamlet was shut out in a 12-0 decision in six innings. As a team, Post 49 registered just one hit at the plate.
Ra’Nik Little recorded that hit, a leadoff triple in the bottom of the first inning. Hamlet couldn’t catch up to starting pitcher Ben Whitehurst, who threw five innings and struck out nine batters.
Cooper Wallace pitched a scoreless bottom of the sixth inning, striking out the side in order to end the game early.
Post 49 only had two other base runners reach safely in the game, both walks, to Ra’Nes Little and Trace Ricketts.
Hamlet head coach Chip Gordon praised Ricketts, his starting pitcher, but pointed to the team’s five errors in the field as an issue against Post 10. Ricketts threw 3.1 innings, allowed five runs (one earned) on four hits, while striking out six batters and walking five.
“Trace pitched his butt off and had lights out stuff tonight,” Gordon said. “He filled the zone up, pitched to contact and did everything we asked him to do. But when the ball was put in play, the defense didn’t make the plays behind him.
“Between the second and third inning and looking at the errors when we should have been out of the innings, Trace threw an extra 41 pitches,” he added. “That taxed him and he lost velo and command, but he pitched great tonight.”
Wilmington scored three runs in the second, two more in the fourth, three runs in the fifth and capped the win with four runs in the sixth.
Post 10 collected nine hits, with Jayson Culley, Bennett McNeil and Aleck Creech all notching two hits and two RBIs apiece.
Ra’Nik Little replaced Ricketts on the mound with one out in the fourth and pitched 0.2 innings. He surrendered three runs (one earned) on two hits and struck out two.
Ra’Nes Little threw one inning and had a clean sheet besides two walks, and Antonio Heins closed out the sixth frame. Heins surrendered four runs (two earned) on three hits and struck out one batter.
“The story of tonight’s game is that we didn’t field ground balls and we struck out too much,” Gordon said. “And until we can fix that, we’re going to continue to play the way we are. We’ve got to help our pitchers out, or it’s going to be a long season.
“As a coaching staff, we preach pitching to contact,” he continued. “And in our last two games, our pitchers have done that. But the errors and mistakes have come back to kill us. It stings that we’re 0-4.”
Gordon also addressed his team’s hitting, which is batting .146 through four games with just 12 hits. Ra’Nik Little has four of those hits, while Ricketts and Jake Clemmons are second on the team with two.
“When it comes to hitting, it’s going to take our hitters to realize that we don’t have to pull the ball to hit the ball hard,” Gordon explained. “All of our guys in practice do the right things and work that right-side approach. But in games, it just doesn’t happen.
“We’re going to keep learning our hitting zones and plugging away,” he closed. “We’re young and we have a lot of good ball players. There are just a lot of inconsistencies in their game we’re trying to polish.”
Post 49 (0-4, 0-2 Area 2) will head to Big Rock Stadium for a doubleheader on Saturday against Morehead City Post 46. The games will start at 2 p.m. and 5 p.m.