Legion Baseball: Kernersville ends Post 87 playoff run
Two games, one win, one berth into the third round of the Area III legion playoffs.
A scenario that was right at the fingertips of High Point, but foiled by a determined bunch from Kernersville.
The Junior HiToms dropped the decisive game in the best-of-five second round series 6-3, falling for the second time on a Sunday afternoon when one victory would have advanced them. Instead, Post 87 is taking inventory rather than playing on in search of a third consecutive state tournament appearance. They lost earlier in the day, 7-5.
“I felt good coming into today,” said High Point head coach Rob Shore. “They had to beat us twice and that is exactly what they did. The better team today won. We wound up beating them four times this year and they beat us three times. Those three times they beat us were the ones that mattered.”
Feeling the sting of committing a plethora of errors in the first game of the day, Shore had hopes that his bunch would erase it completely from their minds. He knows the importance of getting off to a quick start, but trouble came right from the get-go. Post 36 posted two runs in the first on starter Mitch Carstens, using a trio of hits to post a 2-0 lead. Jamison Nagle did the dirty work, driving a pitch to the wall in left-center for a double that plated two.
Kernersville extended the margin by one in the second. No. 8 hitter Drew Wilson smacked a home run over the fence for a 3-0 score.
“As much as we did not want any carryover from the first game, I think there was some the first couple of innings,” said Shore. “It is difficult to mentally prepare for a game when you know you have given away the first one. I am not taking anything away from Kernersville because they capitalized on those mistakes. But when it came down to it we just made too many mistakes.”
Kernersville received a lot of help in the earlier game, but used the bats to whip up on Post 87 in the decisive meeting. A single and sacrifice fly scored a run in the fourth, followed by a two-spot in the sixth that distanced themselves further from the HiToms at 6-1.
A solo home run by Colin Rosenbaum in the bottom of the sixth chipped off one run, but the deficit remained three with an inning to go.
The Junior HiToms made things interesting in the final frame. Kyle Morrison boarded the bases with an infield single and Trey Byrd ran for him. Chris Corbett drilled a double to advance Byrd to third with no outs. David Newcomer continued the rally with a single to make it 6-3. The HiToms brought the tying run to the plate three straight times but came up empty facing Kernersville closer Zach Scudder. A popup, strikeout looking and flyout ended the Post 87 season.
“Our guys came out and competed today,” said Post 36 coach Chad Loflin. “Those guys can swing the heck out of it and our guys kept them off balance mixing it up. Now we have Rowan County and we are looking forward to it.”
Despite sporting a 20-11 record, dropping out this early in the postseason was a letdown for a team that has gone to the state tournament the last two seasons.
“This is the first time since 2009 that we have gone home in the second round,” said Shore. “Not a lot of 20-win teams go home in the second round, and I think that shows you how tough the Area III is.”
Rosenbaum had a fine afternoon going 4-for-4 in the loss.
Sports Editor Zach Kepley can be reached at 888-3631, or firstname.lastname@example.org.