WILMINGTON — High-scoring second and sixth innings, paired with a strong start by pitcher Ra’Nik Little, propelled the Hamlet American Legion baseball team to a win in the opening game of Friday’s doubleheader.
Post 49 finally got back on the diamond after over a week off and defeated Wilmington Post 10 Patriots 11-4.
The 49ers broke the game open with six runs in the top of the second inning, erasing a one-run deficit and giving Little a comfortable cushion to work with.
Little threw 5.0 innings in the win, his first of the summer, and gave up just four runs (three earned) on four hits. He added four strikeouts and stranded four runners on base.
Hamlet collected six hits from six different players, and capitalized on the free pass. Post 49 drew eight walks in the game.
Three different players drove in two RBIs apiece — Michael Norris and newcomers Nick DiCarlo and Finley Spicer.
“Ra’Nik threw very well today and he filled up the strike zone,” head coach Chip Gordon said. “We’re very pleased with his effort and he gave us five strong innings. The second inning was good for us, and we used the walks and two-out hits to force them to make plays. We came out on the good end of the stick.
“The guys did a great job battling the heat, and we really couldn’t ask for a better effort,” he added. “Making up the rainout, we got on them quickly and really played well. Guys like Michael, Finley and Nick will be big for us and fill in some spots in the lineup.”
An error with a runner on third put Wilmington up 1-0 in the first, but a leadoff walk by Tanner Cheek and a Jake Clemmons hit-by-pitch with two outs started a rally in the second against starting pitcher Trey Pierce (1.2 innings, six runs, three hits, four walks).
Cheek tied the game when he scored on a passed ball and Cooper Sessoms drew a walk to put runners on first and second. DiCarlo delivered with a two-RBI double to the gap in center, bringing in Clemmons and Sessoms.
Tristan Hunt (hit-by-pitch) and Cameron Way (walk) loaded the bases for Spicer, who hit a hard ground ball single to right field for his two RBIs to make it a four-run advantage. Way, who moved to third on the hit, capped the big inning by scoring on a passed ball.
Little faced just four batters in the bottom of the second, and Hamlet added another run in the top of the third. An error on a Hunt fly ball to center allowed Clemmons (single) to score and make it 7-1.
Wilmington got a run back in the bottom of the third, but Little retired the Patriots in order in the fourth. A two-RBI double by Nick DiSanti in the bottom of the fifth recorded Wilmington’s final two runs.
Post 49 added four insurance runs in the top of the sixth. Hunt had an RBI single to score DiCarlo (walk) and Norris, who pitched the final two innings and allowed one hit, knocked a two-RBI single to left, plating Way (fielder’s choice) and Spicer (walk).
Hamlet’s final run came courtesy of Ayden Allen, who hit an RBI fielder’s choice to third, bringing home Cheek (hit-by-pitch).
With the win, Post 49 improved to 4-3 on the summer. A game story for the second half of the doubleheader will be published soon.