WILMINGTON — An early back-and-forth battle during Saturday’s playoff game led to a late-game defeat for the Hamlet American Legion baseball team.
No. 2 Post 49 faced the No. 7 Wilmington Post 10 Patriots in game two of the best-of-three opening round of the Area 2 playoffs, but unlike Thursday’s win, the 49ers fell 6-4.
Both teams jumped on the scoreboard early, making it a 4-4 game after the first two innings.
Hamlet and Wilmington traded zeroes for three straight innings before a two-run bottom of the sixth secured the win for the Patriots.
“We didn’t play our best game,” head coach Chip Gordon said. “The difference tonight was we made too many baserunning mistakes. We ran ourselves into outs being too aggressive, and we ran ourselves out of three or four runs because of bad decisions.”
Chaz Witmore started on the mound for Post 49, throwing 2.0 innings and allowing four runs on two hits. Finley Spicer pitched 4.0 innings of relief and struck out seven batters. He allowed seven hits and two runs.
“Finley kept us in it and was able to work out of some jams,” Gordon noted. “He did everything we asked him to do and he gave us a shot. Our bats were just flat in the later innings.”
Hamlet scored its first run of the game thanks to an infield hit by Walker Lambeth in the top of the first.
Beating out the throw for a base hit to short, Lambeth’s hit registered an RBI when Tristan Hunt (hit-by-pitch) scored, the first of his two runs in the game.
The Patriots responded with three runs in the home half, using a fielder’s choice, wild pitch and an RBI single to take a two-run lead.
Answering a half inning later, the 49ers plated three runs to jump back ahead 4-3. Ra’Nik Little and Ra’Nes Little both drew a walk and later crossed home plate courtesy of a passed ball.
Spicer connected for a two-out RBI single on a hard ground ball to left field, plating Hunt, who singled earlier in the inning for Hamlet’s final run.
An RBI single in the bottom of the second knotted the game at four runs apiece, and Hamlet’s bats went cold. Post 49 stranded the bases loaded in the third and saw its final out made on a play at the plate.
Hamlet was retired in order in the fourth, fifth and sixth frames. Spicer’s efforts kept the 49ers in it, starting by striking out the side and leaving two baserunners on in the bottom of the third.
He left another runner on in the fourth and worked out of a bases-loaded situation in the fifth, using a groundout to end the threat.
Post 10 scored its final two runs on a sacrifice bunt and an RBI single in the bottom of the sixth.
Hamlet had a chance in the top of the seventh, loading the bases with one away. But a lineout and a fielder’s choice ended the game. Both teams stranded eight runners on base.
Spicer had two hits and an RBI for Hamlet, Nick DiCarlo connected for a double and Lambeth, Hunt and Ayden Allen all had a single.
The loss evened the series 1-1 and the deciding third game will be played at Memorial Park in Hamlet on Sunday. First pitch is set for 7 p.m.