Glitch in plan pins loss on Post 45 in Southeast Regional opener

ASHEBORO – Parts of a plan for Randolph County Post 45 played out well on the first day of the Southeast Regional for American Legion baseball.

But there were a few things that Post 45 couldn’t anticipate Wednesday night at McCrary Park and that was part of the downfall.

Columbia (Tenn.) Post 19 had two big innings and those turned into a 7-5 victory.

“We had a plan and we executed it for the most part,” Randolph County manager Ronnie Pugh said. “They had two big hits.”

Now Post 45 takes on Belleview (Fla.) Post 284 in an elimination game at 12:30 p.m. Thursday. It’s a double-elimination tournament, which wraps up Sunday.

“Win one and go to the next day,” Post 45 outfielder Carter Brown said of the objective.

Post 19’s No. 9 batter Baylan Tuten blasted a bases-clearing two-out triple over right fielder Tyler Parks’ head to turn a 5-4 deficit into a 7-4 lead in the fifth inning.

Post 45 had trouble generating much with its seven hits. The team had been off since July 17 when it failed to reach the Area 3 final.

“Hitting, a few of us didn’t have it,” outfielder Connor Adams said.

Post 45 was without center fielder Braylen Hayes because of an injury and catcher Grat Dalton because of a family situation. Pitcher Drake Purvis was absent due to another baseball endeavor.

Pugh said Randolph County has enough personnel to extend the season to the weekend.

“It’s tough coming off losses, but so is (Belleview),” he said. “We’ve got to win one game a day.”

Randolph County used Robert Garner for three innings as the starting pitcher. Reliever Samuel Asbill breezed through the fourth inning before trouble brewed in the fifth. A one-out single and two two-out walks triggered Columbia’s rally.

Earlier, Columbia loaded the bases with no outs in the first inning but a popup and two strikeouts allowed Post 45 to escape.

Randolph County didn’t waste its chances in the bottom of the inning, with Josh Meadows’ one-out single driving in two runs. Braxton Walker followed with a run-scoring triple.

Columbia converted in the second on Cam Vaughn’s one-out ground-rule double to pull within 3-2 and tacked on two more runs in the inning. In the third, Hunter Atkins doubled and scored on Meadows’ groundout before Walker’s single put Post 45 back ahead.

Walker was the only Post 45 player with more than one hit.

So after the layoff, the offseason looms unless Randolph County can make a quick turnaround.

“It was a long break, but we’re all happy to get back,” Brown said.

“We want to win it,” Adams said, suggesting the energy could increase a notch with the season the line.

In Wednesday’s earlier games, Owensboro (Ky.) topped Evans (Ga.) 5-1, West End (Va.) edged Belleview 7-4, and Florence (S.C.) defeated North Carolina state champion Fuquay-Varina 9-5. There are also games Thursday at 9 a.m., 4 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

By Bob Sutton