Legion Baseball: Post 87 closing in on divisional crown
Post 87 is making the Northeast Division of Area III American Legion baseball look quite easy.
Through four of the scheduled six divisional games, the HiToms are perfect, winning by an average of eight runs. A normally tough group with the likes of Burlington-Graham, Eastern Randolph and Randolph County, it has been smooth sailing with two games left.
“Honestly, the last five or six years the three teams that have been in our conference with us have usually finished in the top four or five of our group every year,” said head coach Rob Shore. “I can't tell you if we are that much better or they are weaker, but we are really playing well.”
Their two closest divisional games have come against 0-4 Eastern Randolph. They won 5-2 and 9-3 in fairly competitive games. The other two contests have been shortened due to the mercy rule. The HiToms beat Randolph County 16-5 Saturday, then turned around Sunday to thump Burlington 15-3.
Shore says that defense has played a factor in league play. His team has made the key plays while the opposition has booted the ball and thrown the ball carelessly around the diamond.
“We are not making mistakes on defense,” Shore said. “A lot of the other teams are making mistakes. This team has really limited making errors. We have made a very high percentage of routine plays.”
The offense has been just as good as the glove work. It is perhaps the best lineup from top to bottom that Shore has ever fielded. There may not be as many home run hitters, but many of them hit for a good average and force the defense to make plays. Even when a few may be slumping, someone else has stepped up to keep the offense dangerous.
“It is fun to watch because when we've had someone struggling, others have stepped up,” said Shore. “Some of our main guys have struggled, but our 6-9 hitters have really picked up a lot of the slack when they are struggling. Once we are all swinging the bat well – like our last two games – it makes it really tough on a team to pitch around somebody.”
If the HiToms (18-2) wind up finishing first, they would meet the fourth-place team in their division for the first round of the playoffs.