HAMLET — Not backing down while facing elimination, the No. 2 Hamlet American Legion baseball team found some two-out lightning in a bottle to punch its ticket to the second round of the playoffs on Sunday.
Needing to win a decisive game three to advance in the opening round of the Area 2 playoffs, Post 49 dug in late to end the No. 7 Wilmington Post 10 Patriots’ season.
Behind a six-run bottom of the fifth inning, a strong start from Cameron Way, several hustle plays and two innings of relief from Tristan Hunt, Hamlet earned a 6-5 win.
Facing a 4-0 hole entering the bottom of the fifth, the 49ers had just nine offensive outs to get things done. They didn’t need that many, plating all of their runs in the fifth, impressively with two away.
Way made his first appearance on the mound in the playoff series, earning the win with 5.0 innings of work. He allowed four runs on three hits and struck out four batters.
Making quick work through the first two innings, Way faced four batters in the first and retired Post 10 in order in the second.
With two outs in the top of the third, Wilmington scored all four of its runs. Post 10 used a bases-clearing double from Oakley Rempel and an RBI single from Chris Davis to take the lead.
Way settled in and allowed just three base runners and no runs during his final two innings of work. Catcher Cooper Sessoms threw out Tatum Hayden trying to steal second to end the fourth, and a fly out to center fielder Nick DiCarlo left two runners on in the fifth.
Two quick outs to start the bottom of the fifth by Davis (4.2 innings, three runs, six hits) quickly came undone. DiCarlo started the two-out magic with a single to left and stole second to get into scoring position.
Way helped his cause in the next at-bat by barreling a line drive RBI single to center, scoring DiCarlo and moving to second on the throw. Finley Spicer kept it going when he powered an RBI double over the left fielder’s head to the wall to make it a two-run deficit.
Post 10 inserted Rempel on the mound (0.0 innings, three runs, three hits) and issued an intentional walk to Markey Purvis, who doubled the inning before. Ra’Nes Little hustled out a dribbler to short for an infield hit to load the bases.
Passing the bat to Tanner Cheek, he hit an RBI single through the left side of the infield to score Spicer. Ra’Nik Little tied the game at four runs when his infield hit found a hole between the mound and third base, giving Purvis a chance to score.
Rempel’s final batter was Sessoms, who drew a bases-loaded walk to bring in Ra’Nes Little to give Hamlet its first lead of the game. Adding the eventual game-winning run, Hunt also drew a base on balls with the bases full of 49ers off relief pitcher Trey Pierce.
Needing just six outs to advance, Hunt allowed a leadoff single in the top of the sixth before retiring the next three batters via the punchout. Hamlet looked to add on to its lead, but went quietly in the home half.
Post 10 would make the final inning interesting with two outs. Following a leadoff walk, two more walks loaded the bases. With the game-tying run in scoring position, Davis Hinshaw reached on a walk to make it a one-run game.
But just two pitches into the next at-bat to Toby Southerland, Hunt got a soft liner to short, which was caught by Way to end the game. In celebration, the Post 49 players ran to second base and took a team selfie.
Collecting nine hits in the win, Spicer and Ra’Nes Little both had two. DiCarlo, Cheek, Ra’Nik Little, Purvis and Way each had one. Six different 49ers registered one RBI in the win.
It will be a quick turnaround for Post 49, which will start the second round of the playoffs this week.
At the time of publication, No. 2 Hamlet’s opponent in the best-of-three game series has yet to be decided. Hamlet will face the winner of No. 3 Hope Mills and No. 6 Pleasure Island.