Home Local Sports SEASON RECAP: Post 49 ‘back on the map’ following second summer campaign

SEASON RECAP: Post 49 ‘back on the map’ following second summer campaign

HAMLET —  When the Hamlet American Legion baseball program returned last summer for the first time in 14 years, head coach Chip Gordon said he wanted to help put Post 49 “back on the map.”

After a nearly two-month summer campaign, Gordon believes the team achieved that goal in its second season under his direction.

Post 49 finished the season with a 14-10 overall record, 11 wins better than last summer, and earned the No. 2 seed in the Area 2 conference standings.

That paved the way for the 49ers to make it to the second round of the playoffs, coming up two wins shy of representing Richmond County in the American Legion state tournament.

“This was a much better season, and we had a good group of guys who bought into what we were trying to do,” Gordon said. “They accepted their roles and we did some addition through subtraction throughout the season to get down to our core group of guys.

“They were never there just for themselves and they played team baseball,” he continued. “We wanted to create an atmosphere of a brotherhood with the mindset to all reach a common goal. The kids meshed together and played for the name on the front of their jersey.”

Post 49’s roster was made up of players from Richmond, Anson, Moore and Marlboro counties. The core group of players, along with some mid-season additions, helped keep Hamlet competitive and in the hunt for the state playoffs.

“Getting 14 wins was a big improvement,” Gordon commented. “We could have won more games, but we just didn’t catch some breaks in some games. I can’t commend anyone any more than anyone else. Each player performed his job and his tasks to his fullest potential, and because of that, we won a lot of games.”

Post 49 went on a couple of three-game winning streaks this summer, and Gordon said he was also pleased with how competitive the team was even in defeat.

Hamlet was much more athletic and talented across the board this season, using a combination of strong pitching, reliable defense and productive at-bats to flip the script from a season ago.

“All of our pitchers stepped up big when they needed to at different times throughout the season,” Gordon shared. “The guys played defense well and some of them were playing out of position in spots where we needed them.

“Our at-bats got a lot better from game one to the end of the season,” he added. “There weren’t a lot of quality at-bats early, but we learned how to make productive outs. That’s a testament to the guys for putting in work and doing whatever they needed to help the team win.”

On the mound, Cameron Way (26.2 innings), Tanner Cheek (19.0 innings) and Tristan Hunt (18.2 innings) carried the weight for Post 49. A total of 10 different pitchers saw action from the bump during the season, including Ra’Nik Little, Finley Spicer and Chaz Witmore.

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Hunt led the team with 29 strikeouts, followed by Way (24) and Spicer (18). Boasting a 3.00 earned run average, Spicer topped the pitching staff and was closely followed by Hunt (3.37 ERA) and Way (3.67 ERA).

As a team, Hamlet batted .318 at the plate, led by Ryley Norton (.485), Way (.441), Spicer (.425), Nick DiCarlo (.391) and Ra’Nes Little (.314). Adding double-digit RBIs were Way (19), Spicer (17), Cheek (11) and Norton (10).

Of the team’s 163 total hits, 37 went for extra bases (26 doubles, 6 triples and 5 home runs). Hunt’s 23 runs scored were a team-high, with Way crossing the plate 22 times and hitting three homers.

In 2021, Hamlet entered the playoffs as the last-place team but jumped six spots to the No. 2 seed this summer. Gordon noted that the achievement was a product of the players’ efforts on the diamond.

“To go from an eight seed to two seed in one year shows the work of not only the players, but also the coaching staff,” Gordon said. “Everyone in our program put in so much work in a short amount of time.

“The city of Hamlet also helped by getting Memorial Park to where it needed to be, and the program reaped the benefits of all that hard work.”

When asked what some of the best moments of the season were, Gordon said all the wins were nice, but erasing a nine-run deficit on the road against Hope Mills in late June was a defining win.

He added that “the mentality of this team was impressive,” never backing down when things may not be going the team’s way.

Gordon also wanted to commend several players for joining or continuing the college baseball circuit. 

Way, Ra’Nik and Ra’Nes Little will play at Cleveland Community College, Hunt will head to USC Lancaster, Cheek will return to Francis Marion, Witmore will play at Fayetteville Tech and DiCarlo (Louisburg) and Spicer (Limestone) will be freshmen this fall.

“I want to thank all the fans for their support and everyone who helped with day-to-day operations, including Daniel Diggs our PA announcer and Wendell Sessoms who ran the concession stand. It was a complete team effort, and I can’t thank the community and our sponsors enough.

“We’re going to continue to build our program, keep working and look to outperform this season next season,” Gordon closed. “We want to reestablish Post 49 as a perennial power in Legion baseball and hopefully with the winning season we’ll have more programs buy into what Post 49 is doing and come play for us.”

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Kyle Pillar is a nine-time North Carolina Press Association award-winning sports editor with The Richmond Observer. Follow the sports department on Twitter @ROSports_ for the best in-depth coverage of Richmond County sports.