HAMLET — An extended break over the holiday will give Hamlet Post 49 plenty of time to gear up for a hopeful deep run in the playoffs.
American Legion baseball released its postseason brackets over the weekend and Hamlet earned the No. 3 seed in the Area 2 conference tournament.
Finishing with a 10-8 overall record, and a 5-3 mark against Area 2 teams, head coach Chip Gordon and Post 49 will have a first-round bye.
The team will start a best-of-five game series against No. 2 seed Carteret Post 99 on July 12.
“I like that we’re the three seed,” Gordon said. “Obviously we wanted to finish as the first or second seed, but we’ll take what we earned and do the best we can with what we’ve got.”
Of the eight teams that compete in the Area 2 conference, five made the postseason. Three of the five teams — Hamlet, No. 1 Wilmington Post 10 and No. 5 Hope Mills Post 32 — play in the South Division.
The other two teams — Carteret and No. 4 Port City Post 545 — made it from the North Division.
Gordon explained that the top three seeds earned a first-round bye and that No. 4 Port City and No. 5 Hope Mills will play a play-in series.
Hamlet, which ended its regular season on a two-game slide, will look to bounce back against Post 99 (9-3). Carteret enters the postseason on an eight-game winning streak.
“They’ve won eight games in a row, but I like the way we match up against them,” Gordon said. “It’s the playoffs, so everybody is 0-0 to start. If we play the way we’re capable of playing, I like our chances.”
Post 49 has had a jam-packed summer, playing 18 games in a 27-day span. Gordon said he hopes the experience will pay off for Hamlet against Carteret.
“We played 18 games this summer so far and all the other teams in Area 2 played no more than 12,” he said. “That gives us an advantage because our guys were battle tested in a lot of games.”
Gordon also said approaching a five-game series is different than playing a one or two games against a single opponent spread out over the course of the season.
“For a five-game series, our goal is to win game one,” Gordon said. “If we can do that, we can dictate the tone of the series. With a one-game lead, it allows us not to worry about burning pitchers in game one.
“Our goal is to get in and get out and win the first three games,” he closed. “The playoffs are about managing our pitching staff in a short amount of time, and we’ve done a good job of that all summer.”
In game one, Gordon said right-hander Skyler Mathis, who pitches at Methodist University, will get the start on the mound.
Over the next week, Hamlet will practice several times leading up to the series with Carteret Post 99.
Below is the schedule for No. 3 Hamlet’s second round series against No. 2 Carteret. All games will start at 7 p.m.
July 12: Hamlet @ Carteret
July 13: Hamlet @ Carteret
July 14: Hamlet vs. Carteret
July 15: Hamlet vs. Carteret (if necessary)
July 16: Hamlet @ Carteret (if necessary)
The Richmond Observer will continue its coverage of Hamlet Post 49 throughout the postseason.