Saturday, July 18, 2009

Thanks for the memories, Post 13

Ah well, it was fun while it lasted for Post 13.

The Wilson nine bowed out of the American Legion baseball playoffs Friday night with an 11-10 loss in the decisive game 5 of their Area One Eastern Division championship series against Rocky Mount Post 58. Probably a little painful for Post 13 to take about now considering they were up 2-0 in the series and had a 10-8 lead going into the bottom of the ninth Friday night.

But Rocky Mount is just one tough team from which to get three outs in a row. Post 58 showed exactly how formidable its bats could be with a 32-5 thrashing it laid on Wilson in game 3. Rocky Mount scored 59 runs in its last three games, easily overcoming what some of its supporters told me was its shaky pitching staff.

I didn't think Post 58's pitching was that bad but it wasn't spectacular. Still, as true as is the common thinking in baseball that pitching wins pennants, hitting is more likely to win American Legion state championships. Assuming Rocky Mount gets past Cary Post 67 in the Area One finals, I have to like Post 58's chances in the state tournament in Greenville.

That black-and-red-clad crowd wields some pretty mean metal, especially in the cozy confines of the Northern Nash High School field, where Rocky Mount plays its home games. But even if Post 58 played in cavernous Fleming Stadium, they'd just have more doubles instead of home runs.

None of this will mean much to the Wilson players and coaches now but they had a heckuva season. One that began with four straight losses and ended with three straight losses. But in between there were some memorable moments as Wilson went deeper than anyone would have imagined at the beginning of the season.

For any team from Wilson, losing to Rocky Mount is never fun (and it definitely goes both ways) but I guess the Post 13 players from Fike are even more disappointed. After all, this series was in some way a continuation of that great Fike-Rocky Mount High rivalry from the 2008 high school season. The Gryphons and Golden Demons (which included Post 13 players Bentley Massey, Zac Crumpler, Tripp Sauls, David Gibbons, Michael McLawhorn and Mitchell Wheeler) had some great matchups but Rocky Mount got the last laugh with a playoff win on its way to the state 3-A championship.

Now it seems Rocky Mount might get a chance to win an American Legion state title, or at the very least, play for one.

But Wilson players showed their mettle and a few, such as Wheeler and Zack Lee, demonstrated abilities that could very well carry over into a career at the collegiate level. The ones that are already college will take back valuable lessons from the summer, which ended up being a memorable one after all.

Now I'm out of here for a couple of weeks for my long-awaited vacation but I will be checking in from time-to-time as we get ready for football season. Can you believe high schools can start practice two weeks from today?

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