It was too little, too late for the Martinsville Post 42 American Legion baseball team on Wednesday night at Hooker Field as a slow start led to the team falling to Post 87 by a score of 11-8.
Post 42 head coach Barry Nelson said following the loss that his players, which are mainly 15- and 16-year-olds, are going to have to make the most of their at-bats and get used to the competition they are facing if they are going to contend this year.
“They need to understand that after you get past this, they’re going to see guys like this on a daily basis in the college ranks ,” Nelson said. “They got to understand how to handle it. ... Coming from high school is a different approach. When you come to college and you don’t have an aggressive approach, you won’t play.”
Post 42 starting pitcher Kemper Terry had troubles to begin the first inning of the ballgame. Of the five batters he faced in the inning, four of them got base hits and two of them got RBI singles. Terry and Post 42 found themselves in a 2-0 hole heading to the bottom of the first.
“It was pretty hot and the temperature may have got Kemper,” Nelson said. “The circumstances may have got to him.”
In the bottom half however, Post 42 (1-1) gave retribution by doing exactly the same thing to Post 87 starting pitcher Mitch Carstens that Post 87 did to Terry. Post 42 accounted for three hits, two walks and two runs in the inning to tie the game at two, but left three runners on base as both Tuggle and Holden Watkins struck out to end the inning.
After a shaky start to begin the game, Terry settled down in the second inning and went a clean 1-2-3 to retire all of the batters he faced. But the mirror-imaging of one another continued as Carstens did the same with his outing in the second. After two innings, the score remained two apiece.
Something had to give at some point and that something came from Post 87’s top of the order. Both Levi Gessel and Hayden Manuel got on base to begin the inning and Nelson elected to walk Pete Guy to set up a potential double play. But the move didn’t work out as Zach Micholski hit a two-run double to left field followed by a two-run single for Collin Rosembaum. When it was all said and done, Post 87 had a four-run cushion with a 6-2 lead after three innings of play.
With four innings in the books, Nelson chose to replace Terry with Logan Woodall. But his day began just like Terry’s did with runners loading up the bases. With players on all three bases, Woodall delivered a wild pitch that scored another post 87 run. An error gets Chris Corbett onto first base and scores two more runs to make the lead 10-2.
Tyler Belcher reached base in the bottom of the fifth inning on a fielder’s choice to allow a run to score to make it 10-3. Carstens lost control of his pitches in the inning and loaded the bases, forcing head coach Rob Shore to replace him with Ryan Kahney.
But Kahney allowed four runs in the inning, which were supplied from Terry and McReynolds who both had two-run singles that made the deficit just three runs taking the game into the sixth. Both teams had double-digit hits before the sixth. Post 87 had 12 and Post 42 had 10.
With Post 42 finally scoring some runs, the adrenaline seemed to carry on for them. Woodall faced just four batters in the fourth and struckout two of them while not allowing any hits or runs. Woodall — who was sixth on Bassett’s depth chart this past season — made quite the impression on Nelson.
“I had him sitting over there in the cool and when he came in he surprised the heck out of me,” Nelson said. “He did a great job. His curve ball and off-speed pitch was great.”
With a chance to get within striking distance of Post 87 the bats went ice cold in the sixth for Post 42. All three outs were pop outs and the game went into the seventh with a 10-7 score still on the scoreboard.
But with two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Terry hit a double down the right field line which scored Watkins from second base. The comeback was slow, but Post 42 managed to crawl back into the game down only two with the eight inning starting.
New pitcher Brandon Turner took the mound for Post 42 in the eighth and kept the score within reach by allowing just one runner on base as the result of a walk and kept the score at 10-8.
Shore countered with his own new pitcher — Tyler Britton — and Britton didn’t let him down, retiring three of the four batters he faced. Two of those were strikeouts.
In his last at-bat, Post 87’s Pete Guy padded the lead with a solo home run off of Turner to left field for an 11-8 lead. With help from McReynolds, Turner was able to get the last two outs of the inning to give Post 42 one last chance.
Down three, Post 42 went down in order 1-2-3 to Britton to end the game.
“I was out there preaching, you can’t win ballgames making five errors,” Nelson said. “We had one inning tonight where we were throwing it around looking like the ‘Bad News Bears.’ I was telling them, I just wanted to take a timeout. But you have to get past this. It was a great learning experience against a good team.”
Post 42 will be back at Hooker Field tonight against Randolph County Post 45 at 7 p.m.