Home Local Sports Late-game rally falls short for Hamlet in first loss

Late-game rally falls short for Hamlet in first loss

James Eason (8) threw a complete game despite Hamlet's one-run loss Sunday. (Kyle Pillar, sports editor)

HAMLET — A long day of baseball at Memorial Park ended in a comeback attempt that fell just short for the Hamlet American Legion baseball team Sunday.

Following their win earlier in the afternoon to win their fifth straight game, the 49ers suffered their first loss of the season to reigning state champion Garner Nationals Post 116.

A pitchers duel between James Eason (Hamlet) and Aiden Carroll (Garner) ended in a 3-2 loss for Post 49, the final game of the George Whitfield Sunday Showdown.

Eason (Richmond) and Carroll both threw a complete game. In his seven innings of work, Eason allowed three earned runs on eight hits and struck out two batters. 

Carroll took a no-hitter into the fifth inning and gave up two runs (one earned) on three hits. 

In each of the first two innings, Eason stranded two runners on base without allowing a run. In the second inning, two fielders’ choices at third and a roller back to the mound kept the game scoreless.

Hamlet got its leadoff batter on base in the first and second innings, but wasn’t able to capitalize.

After allowing a leadoff single in the top of the third, Eason threw to Isaac Hinshaw (Richmond) at first base to pick off Jake Mathis. But with two outs and a full count later in the inning, Carroll hit a two-run home run to right field to put Garner ahead.

A pair of singles put runners on the corners and the Nationals made it a 3-0 lead with an infield base hit deep in the pocket at short.

From that point forward, Eason was lights out. He retired Garner in order in his final four innings of work, collecting seven ground outs, four fly outs and one strikeout.

Entering the bottom of the fifth without a hit, Hamlet broke into the hitting and scoring column. Evan Hodges (Richmond) led off the frame by battling a six-pitch at-bat and lacing a line drive single to center.


Jacob Williams (Union Pines) moved Hodges 90 feet on a ground out and Hodges raced to third following a passed ball. 

Stepping in with two outs, Landon Taylor (Richmond) hit a slow roller to the right side of the infield. Collected by the second baseman, Taylor won the foot race to the uncovered bag, allowing Hodges to score and cut the deficit to two runs.

A leadoff double by Maddox Lockler in the home half of the sixth saw him move to third base, but Hamlet wasn’t able to score.

Not done fighting for runs, Post 49 rallied with one away in the seventh. Pinch hitters Riley Brown (Richmond) and John Carre (Pinecrest) drew free passes. Brown made two good reads on pitches in the dirt during Carre’s plate appearance to move all the way to third.

Taylor stepped in with runners in scoring position after Carre took second uncontested. Although Taylor struck out swinging, the pitch was bobbled by the catcher and he took off for first.

Brown left for home and scored on the throw down to first base, which recorded the second out and another RBI for Taylor. On the throw back to the plate to try and get Brown, Carre sped to third.

JD Scarbrough reached safely in the next at-bat after Carroll hit him in the back. With Memorial Park abuzz, Hamlet’s rally attempt ended with a 6-3 put out with the next batter at the plate.

Locklear, Hodges and Taylor each had a hit against Garner. Taylor was responsible for Hamlet’s two RBI.

Hamlet (5-1) will play three more games in the coming week, starting with a non-conference road game at Randolph County Post 45 Monday. First pitch from McCrary Park is set for 7 p.m.

The Richmond Observer will publish a photo gallery of game two of Hamlet’s doubleheader soon.