MATTHEWS — Jackson Kuhn did damage at both ends during Friday’s non-conference baseball game, helping keep the Hamlet American Legion baseball team in the win column.
Making his first start on the mound, and collecting a season-high in runs driven in, Kuhn was the catalyst in Hamlet’s 7-6 win over Matthews Post 235.
Nearly tossing a complete game, Kuhn threw 6.2 innings before reaching the pitch count. He gave up six runs (four earned) on 11 hits and struck out seven batters.
Tristan Hunt recorded the final out of the game, throwing just four pitches to earn the save.
Facing Post 235 for the first time this season, Hamlet followed a similar script that has unfolded in several games this summer — mounting a come-from-behind win late in the game.
The 49ers loaded the bases with one out in the top of the first but stranded all three runners as a result of an infield fly and an inning-ending groundout.
Kuhn allowed a single and hit a batter in the home half, which led to a two-RBI double by Nathan Schwartz to put Matthews ahead by two runs early.
Jon Westbay, Kuhn’s battery mate, roped a one-out double in the top of the second. J.D. Scarbrough (walk) and Hunt (hit-by-pitch) extended the inning and loaded the bases.
In the next plate appearance, Kuhn watched four consecutive pitches from starter Payton Creech (2 IP, two runs, one hit, six walks) to record the first of his team-high three RBI.
Hunter Huneycutt followed suit a batter later, drawing a free pass to tie the game 2-2.
Post 235 jumped ahead by two runs in the bottom of the second, using a leadoff single, an error and a pair of two-out singles to regain a 4-2 advantage. Kuhn ended the threat by stranding runners on the corners with a strikeout.
Kuhn faced just three batters in the third and fourth frames, using a 5-4-3 double play to escape a leadoff walk in the fourth.
Hamlet’s bats got the job done again in the top of the sixth inning, as a leadoff single by Westbay and an error on a Hunt grounder put two runners on base. Kuhn delivered again, this time smacking a two-RBI double to the alley in left field to tie the game 4-4.
Another 1-2-3 inning on 10 pitches from Kuhn in the bottom of the sixth set up Hamlet’s rally and its final three runs in the top of the seventh.
A one-out double by Ryley Norton and an infield single from Mason Konen put two on for Hamlet against reliever Drew Heiser. Westbay was true again, connecting on his team-high third hit of the game, this one an RBI single to left to score Norton.
Carter Bean delivered in the next at-bat, reaching safely on an infield single to short. Heads up baserunning by Konen and Westbay allowed both runners to advance, sending Konen home for another run.
Scarbrough dug in and registered the eventual game-winning RBI on a sacrifice fly to left field. Westbay turned on the jets and tagged up from third to give Hamlet a 7-4 lead.
Matthews attempted to rally and got two runs back on a double by Schwartz with two away. Following a single to put runners on the corners, Hunt induced the final out. Kuhn fielded the ball at second base and flipped it to Konen at first for the win.
Hamlet had seven hits, led by Westbay’s three knocks. Kuhn and Norton each had a double, while Konen and Bean had one single each.
Adding to Kuhn’s three RBI were solo tallies by Scarbrough, Huneycutt, Westbay and Bean. The team also drew eight walks in the victory.
Post 49 (6-3, 2-0 Area 2) is set to close out the regular-season non-conference series with Chatham Post 292 on Sunday. First pitch is slated for 7 p.m. at Memorial Park.