Samuel Asbill of Randolph County Post 45 throws a pitch during a victory at Chatham County. (PJ Ward-Brown/Randolph Record)
ASHEBORO – A dose of reality during the past week might not be as bad as it looked for Randolph County Post 45.
The American Legion baseball team had breezed through much of its schedule for the first month of the season. Then in a pair of Area 3 North Division games against High Point-Thomasville Post 87, things didn’t go its way.
“Ego got too high,” catcher Grat Dalton said. “We beat everybody. We thought less of this team and should have played a lot better.”
Post 87 made it a two-game sweep by winning 6-3 on Friday night at McCrary Park.
“Two pretty good ball games and they played better than we did,” Randolph County manager Ronnie Pugh said.
The first of those was Post 87’s 8-5 victory Tuesday night. Post 45 entered the stretch on a 13-game winning streak.
It’s far from a crisis for Randolph County, which improved to 17-3 with Saturday night’s 10-0 victory at Foothills Post 123.
“We’ve been playing real good so far,” Post 45 shortstop Tanner Marsh said of the season as a whole. “We just struggle hitting sometimes.”
Randolph County had gone more than a month without losing before the matchups with High Point-Thomasville.
“We seem to hit kind of a plateau,” Pugh said. “It will happen, and we’ll work through it. Sometimes you have to work your way through it.”
Pugh said player availability will fluctuate with some players having college coursework commitments. Plus, third baseman Hunter Atkins missed Friday’s game because of illness, Pugh said.
“You always think you’re going to win all of them,” Pugh said. “Sometimes you find some things out about your team and it can pay off later on.”
Dalton pointed to mental mistakes as contributing to the shortcomings vs. Post 87.
“Things have got to pick up,” he said. “Play with more intensity.”
High Point-Thomasville scored two third-inning runs, beginning when Jake Little lofted a misplayed double to deep right field and scored on Yates Sikes’ hit. Tanner Royals’ groundout plated the next run in the inning. Sikes stole home for the third run.
In the bottom of the inning Braylen Hayes’ two-out, RBI double and Tyler Parks’ run-scoring single tied the game. Post 87 went back ahead with three runs in the fourth and Randolph County’s only response came on Hayes’ RBI groundout in the fifth. Starting pitcher Drake Purvis of Post 45 took the loss, giving up five runs in four innings before Drew Harmon finished on the mound.
For Post 87, the week might have marked a turnaround.
“We finally started playing like a team and found a way to finish,” said shortstop Landon Mowery, a Trinity product who had two hits and a walk Friday night.
Tuesday night at Finch Field in Thomasville, Randolph County gave up seven runs in the Post 87’s last three at-bats in an 8-5 loss. The big blow was Tyler Shafer’s three-run homer in the fifth.
Post 45 didn’t get much going, scoring two runs in the third and two in the sixth – all on two-out fielding blunders that resulted in two runs on each play. It was 5-4 going to the bottom of the sixth, when Post 87 tacked on three runs off reliever Robert Garner. Dalton’s RBI single in the seventh accounted for the last run. Starting pitcher Austin Lemons took the loss despite benefitting from three double plays.
Post 45 bounced back Thursday night to defeat Chatham County Post 292 by 7-2 behind Samuel Asbill’s pitching as he worked into the seventh inning in Siler City. Marsh had three hits, including a two-run homer.
And after the second loss of the week, there was a strong showing against Foothills. Josh Meadows smashed a grand slam, Marsh homered and Garner threw six shutout innings. Connor Adams threw in the seventh to complete a one-hitter.
Sunday’s makeup game against Greensboro Post 53 has been cancelled as Post 53 has called off the rest of its season.