Home Local Sports Hamlet drops season opener against Wayne County

Hamlet drops season opener against Wayne County

Head coach Chip Gordon (21) meets with infielders during the third inning of Saturday's season opener. (Kyle Pillar, sports editor)

MOUNT OLIVE — A fast start to Saturday’s season opener unraveled for the Hamlet American Legion baseball team following a series of unfortunate events.

An early injury that started a carousel of defensive changes led to an 18-5 loss in five innings to non-conference Wayne County Post 11.

Played at the University of Mount Olive, Post 49 collected 10 hits and committed seven errors, while leaving 11 runners on base.

Shortstop Tristan Hunt exited the game in the top of the first after dislocating a finger sliding into third base. Although Hunt returned later in the game, that forced head coach Chip Gordon to “play musical chairs” with the lineup.

“It obviously didn’t go the way we wanted it to,” Gordon said. “We knew we’d be a few players short, but we felt we had a game plan that was going to allow us to compete. 

“But that got thrown out the window in the top of the first with Tristan’s injury. We were scrambling to make adjustments and it went into a defensive and lineup merry-go-round that messed up our game plan.”

Hamlet took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning off starting pitcher Sterling Bass (3.0 IP, 6 hits, 2 earned runs). JD Scarbrough and Hunt started the game with back-to-back singles and moved into scoring position on a double steal.

Jackson Kuhn plated the first run of the season, the first of his two RBI, when he skied a sacrifice fly to center field. Scarbrough raced home and Hunt advanced to third, suffering his injury.

Ryley Norton made it a two-run lead in the next at-bat, reaching on an infield single to third base that trickled into the outfield. Mason Konen, who replaced Hunt in the lineup, scored. Despite loading the bases, Hamlet couldn’t extend its lead.

Jackson Kuhn connects on a sacrifice fly in the top of the first inning during Saturday’s season opener. (Kyle Pillar/The Richmond Observer)

Skylar Mathis started on the mound for Post 49 and pitched 1.0 inning. He allowed 3 earned runs on 4 hits. Wayne County used a sacrifice fly and a two-RBI double to take a 3-2 lead.

Hamlet left a runner on base in the top of the second and Konen pitched the bottom half (1.0 IP, 2 hits, 5 runs), which was part of the defensive shuffle. Hunter Huneycutt played shortstop, Mathis moved to second and Kuhn played first base.

Post 11 scored five runs in the bottom of the second, using a two-RBI double, an error, two runs on a sac fly and an RBI groundout.

Layton Hardee started the third on the bump for Hamlet and surrendered five runs on two hits. Scarbrough inherited runners on first and second with no outs and went the final 2.0 innings. He also allowed five runs on two hits.


“We still had a game to play and made it work the best we could,” Gordon explained. “There were a lot of guys playing out of position just to help the team.

“The guys were competitive despite all that. We asked a lot of them in the first game of the year. They kept battling and I’m proud of that effort. We just need to clean up some routine plays that could have stopped those big innings from happening.”

Trailing 14-2 after three innings, Post 49 scored its final three runs in the top half of the fourth off reliever Ayden West (1.0 IP, 1 hit, 4 walks). Ashton Phifer, Scarbrough and Huneycutt drew free passes to load the bases with one out.

Kuhn delivered again with his second RBI of the game when he watched four straight pitches out of the zone to bring in Phifer. Norton notched his second RBI with a sacrifice fly to right field.

Capping the scoring with his second base hit of the game was Hunter Meeds, who lined an RBI shot to left field to score Huneycutt.

Wayne County scored four runs in the bottom half. Hamlet loaded the bases with no outs to start the fifth against reliever Daniel Weeks, but an infield fly, a strikeout and a ground out ended the game.

JD Scarbrough crosses home plate in the first inning, one of his team-high two runs scored. (Kyle Pillar/The Richmond Observer)

Scarbrough, Meeds and Phifer each had two hits, while Hunt, Norton, Jon Westbay and Carter Bean each had one. Scoring two of the team’s runs was Scarbrough. 

“All of our pitchers threw well, I just would have liked to see more of them,” Gordon said. “We have to throw strikes to keep the tempo of the game up so our infielders don’t get back on their heels.

“Now we just have to regroup and come back tomorrow. That’s the best thing we can do and that’s the good thing about this game. Most of our roster will be there so we’ll be ready to rock and roll and try for our first win of the season.”

Hamlet (0-1) will have a quick turnaround and play its second of four games in consecutive days on Sunday. The 49ers will play another non-conference game on Sunday against Chatham Post 93, which will be held at Jordan-Matthews High School at 2 p.m.

The program’s home opener will be Monday at Memorial Park with Horry County Post 111 visiting. First pitch is slated for 7 p.m.

The Richmond Observer will publish a photo gallery of Saturday’s game soon.

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Kyle Pillar is a 16-time North Carolina Press Association award-winning sports editor with The Richmond Observer. Follow the sports department on Twitter @ROSports_ for the best in-depth coverage of Richmond County sports.