Shocker: Post 321 faced elimination in Legion playoffs
by Staff Writer
The Huntersville American Legion Post 321 baseball team lost more games (two) this week than it had in five weeks combined.
Post 321 roared through the regular season by winning its first 19 games before losing the finale. It then swept Burke County Post 21 in three games to win the opening round of the North Carolina Area IV best-of-five series.
Now, the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Division is in a deep hole.
Post 321 was hammered in the first two games against Hickory Post 48 in the second round of the playoffs, also a best-of-five format.
Hickory, a No. 4 seed from the Western Division, ended both games by the mercy rule, meaning it was ahead by 10 or more runs through seven innings. Post 321 lost 14-0 in the opener July 4 in Huntersville. Game 2 the next night wasn’t much better, with Hickory jumping ahead early and coasting to a 14-3 victory at the Legion Fairgrounds in Newton.
Post 321 allowed three home runs in each game.
The shutout in Game 1 (a three-hitter by Hickory’s Tyler Poole) was the first time Post 321 had been held scoreless this season. Its previous lowest score was five runs.
In Game 2, four Post 321 pitchers were roughed up for 11 hits and walked nine batters.
Bright spots for Post 321 in Game 2 were a home run by Daniel Whitecavage, a Hopewell High graduate who recently finished his freshman season at Surry Community College, and an RBI double by Jared Fortune, a SouthLake Christian graduate who signed with Catawba College.
The disastrous start to the series made Post 321’s mission clear. It had to win Game 3, scheduled for July 6 at North Mecklenburg High. That would force Game 4 on Thursday, July 7, in Newton. If a decisive Game 5 is needed, it would be played Friday, July 8, at North Mecklenburg. All games are at 7 p.m.
Post 321 (22-3) was hampered in the series against Hickory by not having five players, including major contributors Mikal Hill and Diego Perez, who began summer school.
Hill is headed to the University of South Carolina and Perez to Long Island University. Adam Venditti (Belmont Abbey), another starter with college experience, was injured in the opening-round series and didn’t play the first two games against Hickory.
The lopsided losses were stark contrasts to Post 321’s first-round playoff victory against Burke County Post 21.
Post 321 swept the series with victories of 15-4, 9-8 and 5-2.
It was a continuation of Post 321’s offensive prowess during the regular season, when it went 19-1 and averaged 12 runs per game. It scored in double figures 10 times, and eight victories were by 10 or more runs.
Last summer, Post 321 was eliminated in the second round by Cherryville, the eventual area champion.
The Post 321/Hickory winner will advance to the third round and meet the Mint Hill Army/Caldwell County winner in a best-of-five series beginning Sunday, July 10. The Area IV final (best-of-three) is July 16-18.