HAMLET — Head coach Chip Gordon told the Hamlet American Legion baseball team it needed to have a short memory following a loss on Monday.
Post 49 responded by reentering the win column and registered its 10th win of the season against Port City Post 545 in front of its home crowd on Tuesday.
Using a strong start from Chaz Witmore, Hamlet rolled to an 11-2 win over Port City.
The win marked the first time since Hamlet restarted its Legion program that the team reached double-digit victories in a season.
Playing at Memorial Park, Hamlet was the visiting team. The game was moved from Wilmington to Hamlet earlier on Tuesday due to field conditions.
Witmore, who had his best outing of the summer, threw 6.0 innings. The first five of those innings were scoreless frames, and he allowed two earned runs on five hits. He also struck out five batters.
Port City used five different pitchers in the loss, starting with Chase Patterson (3.0 innings, one run).
He was followed by Luka Rumora (1.0 inning), Ayden Rogers (0.0 innings, four runs), Kyle Lechmanick (0.2 innings, three runs) and James Reynolds (2.1 innings, three runs).
Facing just four batters in each of the first two innings, Witmore’s efforts were rewarded with a run by Hamlet in the home half of the third.
Cameron Way led off the frame with one of his team-high three hits, and stole second base. Two at-bats later, Ryley Norton squeezed an RBI base hit inside the bag at third, scoring Way.
Witmore retired Post 545 in order in the third and fourth innings, using a 5-4-3 double play to eliminate a leadoff walk in the fourth.
Hamlet’s breakout inning was the top of the fifth, which sent 11 batters to the dish and resulted in eight runs.
Featuring four hits and five walks, Way got the inning started with a leadoff single to left. Consecutive walks to Finley Spicer and Norton loaded the bases for Ra’Nes Little.
Way scored on a passed ball and Little recorded an RBI when he beat out an infield single behind second base to score Spicer, making it 3-0.
With Kole Dutton at the plate, an errant pickoff attempt by Rogers allowed Norton to score. That was followed by three straight walks, the last one to Tanner Cheek moved Little across the plate.
Following Port City’s second pitching change of the inning, Ayden Allen (walk) scored on a passed ball thrown by Reynolds. Way returned to the plate and raced out an infield single to short, scoring Tristan Hunt (walk).
Leading by seven runs, Spicer dug in and lasered a two-RBI triple to the left-field corner to make it 9-0. Trying to score following a bouncing ball, Spicer was tagged out at the plate to end the big inning.
Witmore loaded the bases with three walks in the bottom of the fifth, but struck out Cam McCotter and induced a ground ball out to Cheek at second against Dalton McCallum to erase the threat.
With one out in the top of the sixth, pinch hitter C.J. Jenkins added another run for Hamlet. Lifting a sacrifice fly to right field, Jenkins’ effort brought home Norton (hit-by-pitch).
Dutton tagged up to third on the play and scored Hamlet’s final run when Port City committed a throwing error on the play.
An RBI groundout and an RBI triple in the bottom of the sixth accounted for both of Post 545’s runs.
After walking the leadoff batter in the bottom of the seventh, Witmore was relieved by Little. Facing just three batters, Little used two grounders and a fly ball to secure the win.
Following Way’s three hits, Spicer and Cooper Sessoms both had two hits. Allen, Little and Norton rounded out the 10-hit performance.
Spicer’s two RBIs led the team and Cheek, Jenkins, Little, Norton and Way all had one RBI.
Hamlet (10-6) will round out its three-game week with a home contest against Beulaville Post 511 on Wednesday. First pitch is set for 7 p.m. at Memorial Park.
VIDEO INTERVIEW: Chaz Witmore explains what allowed him to pitch six strong innings, and coach Chip Gordon said the 49ers played their best game as a team over the last stretch of games.