Alex Martinez, shown here batting for Randolph County Post 45 during the Southeast Regional earlier this month in Asheboro, could be among the team’s returning players for 2023. (PJ Ward-Brown/Randolph Record)
ASHEBORO – When the season ended for Randolph County Post 45 earlier this month, it was a downer.
The team lost back-to-back games to be eliminated from the Southeast Regional in American Legion baseball in its home ballpark.
Yet there might have been a ray of hope regarding the future that day at McCrary Park.
“Only three of our 17 players are gone,” Randolph County manager Ronnie Pugh said. “We could have a lot of these guys back.”
Post 45 ended up with a 31-13 record this year. It was an automatic regional entrant based on its role as the host team.
Given the experience on Randolph County’s team, it might have seemed strange that only three of the players will age out. Pugh said that trio is right fielder Blake Marsh, second baseman Tatum Marsh and catcher/utility player Trey Way. All three of them were pitchers as well.
Granted, those are significant losses because all three usually occupied spots within the top five pegs in the batting order.
Blake Marsh (Catawba) and Tatum Marsh (Brunswick Community College) spent the 2021-22 school year at post-secondary school stops, while Way was a 2022 senior on Randleman’s second consecutive Class 2-A state championship team. Way is beginning his freshman year at Virginia Tech.
Several other Post 45 players will be heading to post-high school programs during the school year that’s just starting. That includes center fielder Braylen Hayes at UNC Greensboro, catcher Alex Martinez at Brunswick Community College and pitcher Robert Garner at Wake Tech.
Other Post 45 starters are rising high school seniors. That list includes left fielder Adam Cole (Southwestern Randolph), third baseman Tyler Parks (Southwestern Randolph), shortstop Tanner Marsh (Asheboro) and first baseman Josh Meadows (Asheboro). Several other players still in high school – such as Grant Little (Uwharrie Charter Academy), Drew Harmon (Montgomery Central) and Connor Adams — were part of this year’s postseason contributors.
In some cases, the 2023 college players or high school seniors might opt for other summer destinations rather than American Legion baseball.
After losing the Area 3 title game to Rowan County, Post 45 went 2-2 in both the state tournament and the Southeast Regional.
“We’ll get back out there and start recruiting,” Pugh said of encouraging eligible players to participate in American Legion baseball.
So there would be a strong quest for Post 45 to contend for a spot in the 2023 American Legion World Series in Shelby.
Earlier this month in Shelby, Troy Post 70 became the first Alabama entry two win the American Legion World Series since 1967 by defeating two-time defending champion Idaho Falls (Idaho) Post 56 in the championship game.
Camden (S.C.) Post 17, which won the Southeast Regional in Asheboro, went 1-2 in World Series bracket play and failed to advance to the semifinal round. Camden’s lone victory came against eventual champion Troy.