WILMINGTON — The Hamlet American Legion baseball team suffered its first Area 2 conference loss of the season on Monday.
Dropping its second game in as many days to start the week, Post 49 came up short against Wilmington Post 10 by a final score of 6-1.
Struggles at the plate hindered the usually productive Hamlet offense, which managed just one hit and struck out a season-high 12 times as a team.
Hamlet’s small mid-season slump saw it accumulate just five runs on five hits over the past two nights.
“When we’re playing a good team like Post 10, we knew we needed to score runs,” head coach Chip Gordon said. “But we struck out 12 times and we simply can’t beat a team when we do that.
“We have to be able to string hits together,” he added. “We only had three balls on the ground and that doesn’t get it done. Essentially 18 of the 21 outs were gimme outs and we didn’t make (Post 10) earn the outs. We just have to have better approaches at the plate.”
Skyler Mathis threw all six innings for Hamlet, throwing 95 pitches. After struggling to find the zone in the first, Mathis settled in and allowed six runs (three earned) on six hits. Post 49 committed two errors behind him.
Post 10 got two runners on to start the bottom of the first due to hit-by-pitches, but Mathis got the first out when he picked off Luke Nixon trying to swipe third. Applying the tag was Markey Purvis.
Bromley Thornton doubled home Cameron Rickabaugh (hit-by-pitch) to give Wilmington a 1-0 lead. Mathis answered with the first of his four strikeouts and a flyout to J.D. Scarbrough in right field.
Post 49 was retired in order to start the first two innings, but Bryant Kimbrell managed to bloop a leadoff single into shallow right field to begin the second for the team’s only hit.
A strikeout by starter Davis Hartman (5 IP, one run, one hit, eight Ks) and a double play erased Kimbrell’s knock.
Another key defensive play in the bottom of the second kept the score close for Hamlet. Second baseman Eythan Reynolds snagged a liner over his head and doubled off Trey Pierce at first. A strikeout to Hartman ended the frame.
Three straight singles to start the bottom of the third loaded the bases with no outs for Post 10. With one away, a passed ball and a sacrifice fly to right field by Jack Cuba extended the Nationals’ lead to 3-0.
Hunter Huneycutt and Kimbrell tried to start some two-out magic in the top of the fourth when both were plunked by offerings from Hartman. With two on, Hartman picked up another strikeout to end the threat.
Mathis retired Post 10 in order in the fourth, using a fly out, strikeout and groundout. Post 49 went quietly in the fifth and Wilmington added a run to its lead in the home half.
A two-out double by Rickabaugh resulted in a run when an error in the infield during the next at-bat skipped into the outfield.
Trailing 4-0, patience at the plate paid off for Post 49 in the top of the fifth. Ashton Phifer and Scarbrough both drew free passes to start the inning, ending Hartman’s night.
Nixon took over (2 IP, four strikeouts) and hit Tristan Hunt on his first offering to load the bases. Huneycutt dug in and battled in an 0-2 count, fouling two of the next three pitches. He was rewarded on the sixth pitch with an RBI fielder’s choice.
Grounding the ball to short, the force out was made at second and Huneycutt used his speed to beat the throw to first. Racing home from third was Phifer, who scored Hamlet’s lone run.
Despite having runners on the corners with one away, a caught stealing and a strikeout kept Hamlet’s deficit at 4-1.
Wilmington tallied its final two runs with two outs in the sixth. Conner Marren roped an RBI single to left field and another error on the infield resulted in the final run scored.
Down to its final three outs, Hamlet was retired in order on strikeouts from Nixon to end the game.
“Skyler pitched great,” Gordon said. “He battled and did everything we asked him to do. He only gave up three earned runs and he pitched well enough to win.
“We just didn’t have the offensive support to match the pitching,” he closed. “Defensively, we could have played better. We can’t make mistakes in the field and on the bases when we’re not hitting.”
Post 49 managed to get runners on via two base on balls and four batters getting hit by a pitch. Wilmington drew four walks off Mathis.
Hamlet (6-5, 2-1 Area 2) will look to bounce back on Tuesday when the team travels to Ashley Post 129. First pitch of the Area 2 conference game is set for 7 p.m., weather pending.
The Richmond Observer will publish a photo gallery of Monday’s game soon.