Legion Playoffs: Winston-Salem to meet Post 87 for final tournament spot

Jul. 17, 2014 @ 05:12 PM

Most seasons, the finals of the Area III American Legion baseball playoffs are basically for seeding purposes for the state tournament. The two teams who are lucky enough to make it that far receive an automatic bid for their efforts, leaving the championship series to be played essentially for bragging rights.
All that goes out the window in a year when a team from that area plays host to the tournament.
Because Davidson County Post 8 is hosting the state tourney, they receive one of the two berths given to each of the four areas. That leaves one spot available that will either be filled by Winston-Salem or the Post 87 HiToms. Instead of a relaxing series, the two teams will be put through the pressure-cooker one more time in a best-of-five showdown that begins Friday at Post 55.
“Any other year we are there,” said Post 87 manager Rob Shore. “In 2011 and 2012 we could breathe a little bit during these games because you already knew you were going. There is no breathing room now. It puts a whole lot more pressure on the kids than it normally would.”
Winston-Salem lost the three meetings in regular season by scores of 5-4, 7-3 and 7-5. But Post 55 is clearly playing its best baseball of the season right now, dispatching of a very good Rowan County team in four games to reach this series. The pitching staff has come on strong in the playoffs. After giving up 10 runs to Post 342 in the first game of the semifinals, Post 55 allowed only two total runs the remainder of the series including two shutouts.
“We have beaten Winston-Salem three times this year but that means absolutely nothing at this point,” Shore said. “Obviously they are playing better baseball. The times we played them I thought they had really good pitching but we were able to get some runs here and there. They are a good team.”
Pitching has been a specialty of Post 87 all season long. Even when the fourth and fifth best guys on the staff have trotted out to the hill, they have been successful.
With the HiToms wrapping up the semifinal series in four games, Shore has the exact rotation he wants for the finals. Trevor Gay will get the start Friday.
“We are set up with pitching the way we wanted it, but I am sure they are set up the way they want to be as well,” said Shore. “We just have to battle it out now. Either one of us can represent the Area III well at the tournament.”
By way of a coin flip, Winston-Salem has home field advantage for the deciding series. They will play all of their home games at Rich Park in Mocksville. Game 2 will be Saturday at Finch Field, with the location alternating each night.

Sports Editor Zach Kepley can be reached at 888-3631, or kepley@tvilletimes.com.