Home Local Sports WEST DIVISION CHAMPS: Hamlet takes regular-season title, wins 10th straight

WEST DIVISION CHAMPS: Hamlet takes regular-season title, wins 10th straight

The Hamlet American Legion baseball team poses for a photo after clinching the West Division championship Wednesday. (Kyle Pillar, sports editor)

FAYETTEVILLE — A perfect run through Area 2 Conference play secured some hardware for the Hamlet American Legion baseball team Wednesday.

Notching its 10th consecutive victory to close out the regular season, Post 49 clinched the Area 2 West Division championship against Hope Mills Post 32.

Using a five-run second inning, along with a complete game on the mound by James Eason (Richmond), Hamlet earned a 7-1 win.

The victory sealed the deal on Hamlet’s first regular-season division title since the program was restarted by head coach Chip Gordon in 2021.

Eason needed just 83 pitches to go the distance to earn his second win on the mound this summer. He held Hope Mills to just three hits, struck out five batters and allowed one earned run.

In all but two of his seven innings, Eason retired Post 32 in order. He faced four batters once and saw five batters in the bottom of the fifth when Hope Mills scored its only run.

Up until Post 32 scored, Eason extended Hamlet’s pitching staff’s scoreless streak to an impressive 26.1 innings, which spanned the team’s last six games.

James Eason comes set before delivering a pitch during his complete game Wednesday. (Kyle Pillar/The Richmond Observer)

Sending 11 batters to the plate in the top of the second inning against losing pitcher Keithyn Hunt (two innings, four hits, five runs, four walks), Hamlet scored five runs on four hits and two errors.

Maddox Locklear got the scoring started with a two-RBI line drive single to center field. Scoring from third base was Riley Brown (Richmond, walk) and John Carre (Pinecrest, error) raced in from second base.

Locklear stole second and moved to third base when an errant throw trickled into center field. Next at the dish was Jacob Williams (Union Pines), who lasered an RBI single into the left field grass.

Landon Taylor (Richmond) hustled out an infield single to second base and JD Scarbrough (Pitt Community College) connected for a long single off the right field wall, one of his game-high three hits, to load the bases.


Eason helped himself out to make it 4-0 with a sacrifice fly to center field, plating Jacobs and moving the other runners up 90 feet. Taylor scored the final run of the inning when Hunt threw a wild pitch.

Maddox Locklear barrels his two-RBI base hit to center field in the second inning. (Kyle Pillar/The Richmond Observer)
JD Scarbrough sends one of his three hits in the game to right field. (Kyle Pillar/The Richmond Observer)

In the bottom of the second, Eason stranded a two-out double. That led to a two-run top of the third for Hamlet’s final two runs.

With two away, Scarbrough found the alley in right-center field for a standup RBI double. Williams, who drew a one-out walk off reliever Josh Pitts (four innings, two runs, two hits, three walks) scored from third to make it 6-0.

Post 49’s final run came when Eason smoked a backside RBI single to right field in the next at-bat. Both he and Locklear finished with two RBI in the game.

Shortstop Evan Hodges (Richmond) helped make the bottom of the fourth a 1-2-3 frame for Eason when he made a diving stop behind the bag at second before throwing to Brown at first for the 6-3 putout.

Hope Mills registered its lone run in the bottom of the fifth. With one out, a single, a base on balls, a balk and an RBI groundout to second base scored the run. Eason stranded a runner at third with a grounder back to the mound.

An inning later, Isaac Hinshaw (Richmond) helped eliminate a base runner at third to start a 5-3 inning-ending double play. Fielding a chopper on the grass, Hinshaw made a quick read to tag out the runner who was caught napping at third before firing to first base to double off the batter.

In his final inning of work with a six-run cushion, Eason sat Hope Mills down in order on two strikeouts and a groundout. Hinshaw fielded a ball at third and threw to Brown to clinch the division title.

Isaac Hinshaw fields a grounder before throwing to first base for an out. (Kyle Pillar/The Richmond Observer)

Hamlet’s eight hits were contributed by Scarbrough (3), Locklear (2), Eason, Williams and Taylor. Driving in a solo RBI apiece were Scarbrough and Williams.

Hamlet (17-4, 8-0 Area 2) will start the Area 2 Conference playoffs Monday at 7 p.m., a best-of-three series. Post 49 will host either Moore County Post 12 or Wadesboro Post 446 depending on the final standings.

As the West Division champions, the 49ers will have the No. 1 seed and have home-field advantage during the Area 2 playoffs.