Home Local Sports Two 5-run innings help Hamlet complete comeback against Horry County

Two 5-run innings help Hamlet complete comeback against Horry County

Hunter Huneycutt (7) is greeted by teammates following his solo homer during Monday's win. (Kyle Pillar, sports editor)

HAMLET — The Hamlet American Legion baseball team didn’t disappoint its home crowd during Monday’s first home game of the season at Memorial Park.

Notching its second win in as many nights, Post 49 erased an early four-run deficit to complete the comeback in 12-6 fashion over Horry County Post 111.

Prior to the start of the game, the City of Hamlet laid out the red carpet to kick off the new season. Presenting the colors were members of the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office color guard, accompanied by a live performance of the National Anthem.

Rep. Ben Moss threw out a ceremonial first pitch and former head coach George Whitfield also returned to Hamlet to meet with fans and sign copies of his book “Covering All the Bases: George Whitfield’s Extraordinary Life in Baseball.”

Local leaders worked together to make it a countywide event. Also present were Hamlet mayor Bill Bayless, Rockingham mayor John Hutchinson, Dobbins Heights mayor Antonio Blue, Meghann Lambeth of the Richmond County Tourism Development Authority and Sheriff Mark Gulledge, among others.

During the fifth inning, public address announcer Daniel Diggs recognized members in the crowd who were active or retired members of each branch of the military. 

On the diamond, Bryant Kimbrell made his season debut with the team on Monday, starting on the mound and throwing 4.0 innings. He allowed six runs (four earned) on three hits, six walks and struck out six batters.

Bryant Kimbrell, who made his first start of the summer, delivers a pitch in the first inning. (Kyle Pillar/The Richmond Observer)

Post 111 scored a run in the first inning and used a three-RBI double by Reese Jordan in the top of the second to make it a 4-0 lead for the visitors.

Hamlet left the bases loaded to end the home half, three of its 11 stranded runners in the game, but Kimbrell settled in and faced just four batters in the third.

Getting the bats going in the bottom of the third, Post 49 sent 10 batters to the plate and scored five runs. 

A leadoff walk to Tristan Hunt by starting pitcher Braeden Campman (2.1 innings, one hit, five runs, six walks) was followed by Hunter Huneycutt reaching on an error and Kimbrell drawing a free pass.

One of seven players to record at least one RBI, Jackson Kuhn walked with the bases loaded in the next at-bat to get Hamlet on the board. Everyone moved up 90 feet when Markey Purvis reached on a fly ball error to right field, scoring Huneycutt.

Two pitches later, James Eason recorded the first of his two RBI with a sacrifice fly to center, which was deep enough to allow courtesy runner Jon Westbay to tag from third.

A four-pitch walk to Hunter Meeds in the ensuing plate appearance loaded the bases for Ashton Phifer, who tied the game with the first of his two RBI off reliever Luke Price. 

Hitting a grounder to shortstop, the out was recorded at third but courtesy runner Ryley Norton crossed the plate to even the score 4-4.

Ashton Phifer records the first of his two RBI during Monday’s win. (Kyle Pillar/The Richmond Observer)

Turning over to the leadoff spot, JD Scarbrough roped an RBI single to center field to deliver the final run of the big inning. Trotting in from third was Meeds to give Hamlet a 5-4 advantage.

The fourth and fifth innings saw both teams trade runs, starting with a solo homer by TJ Anderson for Post 111. His shot hit the roof of the Wilbur Dome in center field to tie the game.

Not to be outdone, Huneycutt took just three pitches into the bottom of the fourth to give Post 49 a one-run lead. The switch hitter barreled up a 1-1 offer from Price and cleared the fence in right field for his first longshot of the summer.

Hamlet left two runners on in the inning and Horry County answered again in the fifth. Hunt took over for Kimbrell with two on and no outs, and later in the inning an RBI groundout by Bobby Jones to third base made it a new ball game at 6-6.

But from that point on, the game was all Hamlet. A one-out bunt single by Scarbrough, followed by a stolen base, resulted in the eventual game-winning run. Hunt dug in and lined an RBI single to right to score Scarbrough.

Tristan Hunt connects on an RBI single in the fifth, which proved to be the game-winning run. (Kyle Pillar/The Richmond Observer)

Hunt faced just four batters in the top of the sixth and the bats came alive again for Hamlet’s second five-run inning of the game. Facing reliever Santino Petrola, a leadoff double by Kuhn to the gap in left-center was followed by an Eason RBI single two at-bats later.

A walk to Norton, coupled with a double steal, put him and Eason in scoring position. Phifer collected his team-high second RBI, tied with Eason, when he sent a dribbler up the first base line for a groundout, giving Eason time to race home.

Norton made it 10-6 when a passed ball went to the backstop. A walk to Hunt put two on and both he and Scarbrough swiped a bag to move into scoring position. The throw down to third was high, scoring Scarbrough and putting Hunt on third.

Horry County inserted its final reliever of the game, Luke Haseldon, who surrendered an RBI hot shot back up the middle from Kimbrell for the final run of the game.

A leadoff walk in the top of the seventh was erased with a diving catch from Scarbrough in right and a game-ending 5-4-3 double play initiated by Purvis. Eason rolled it over to Kimbrell at first to seal the deal.

The 49ers had 10 hits for the third straight game. Knocking two apiece were Eason, Kuhn and Scarbrough. Adding one hit each were Huneycutt, Hunt, Kimbrell and Purvis.

Eason and Phifer combined for four RBI, as Scarbrough, Hunt, Huneycutt, Kimbrell and Kuhn each had one RBI. Through the final five innings of the win, Hamlet outscored Horry County 12-2.

Set to hit the road for the third time in four days on Tuesday to start the season, Hamlet (2-1) will travel to non-conference Rowan Post 342. First pitch from Catawba College is scheduled for a 7 p.m. start.

The Richmond Observer will publish a photo gallery of Monday’s home opener, including the pregame festivities, soon.

Previous articleOBITUARY: Wanda Chavis Gainey
Next articlePHOTOS: Hamlet Post 49 home opener
Kyle Pillar is a 16-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.