Coming into a home doubleheader against Raleigh Post 1, Coleman-Pitt Post 58 had a chance to finish the day anywhere from first to fifth place in its division.
With a first-round bye on the line, Post 1 rode a hot pitcher and a big inning to leave town with two wins and the Area I West division title Saturday at American Legion Field, while Post 58 found itself in fifth place.
Post 1 pitcher Kory Behenna nearly no-hit Post 58 in Game 1, a 2-1 Post 1 victory, then Post 58 let a late three-run lead evaporate in the course of one inning, eventually losing, 10-5, in Game 2.
Coleman-Pitt was upset about an umpiring decision in a tight Game 1. Post 58 pulled the hidden ball trick for an out at second base, but the umpire said time had been called and let the runner stay at second.
He later scored.
“I didn’t see him call time. None of my players saw him call time,” Post 58 coach Hank Jones said. “(The umpire) didn’t even know where the ball was. I mean, he was dumbfounded when it happened. ... He didn’t know the rules. He just messed it up, and it cost us a run.”
Post 58 didn’t record its first hit until the seventh inning against Behenna.
Post 58 had two real chances in Game 1 and couldn’t break through in either.
A bases-loaded, one-out situation yielded nothing, and David Williams was stranded at second after hitting an RBI double that closed the gap to one in the seventh inning.
“(Behenna) can get a little wild sometimes, but (Saturday), he was sharp,” Post 1 coach Aaron Rich said. “I think he trusted his defense a little bit more (Saturday), and that helped him go pretty deep in the game.”
In that type of game, the missed chances were key, Jones said.
“Against a guy like that, you’re probably only going to get one, maybe two opportunities to strike,” Jones said. “We just couldn’t do it.”
In Game 2, Post 58 held a 5-2 lead in the fifth inning.
Starter Blake Helms had been excellent to that point, facing one more than the minimum in the second, third and fourth innings.
In the fifth, though, Post 1 made the best of two free bases and an error, adding a double and triple to score five runs in the frame.
Post 1 padded the lead with three more runs in the fifth, handing Post 58 its worst loss of the season.
“We just keep finding ways to lose,” Jones said. “It’s just that simple.”
Post 58 had five total hits in 14 innings Saturday.
With one more regular-season game to go, Post 58 almost certainly will begin a three-game first-round series Wednesday, likely against Cary Post 67.
Even though Saturday didn’t play out the way Post 58 wanted, Williams said the team will be judged by its next game.
“Good teams are defined by how they bounce back,” Williams said. “When you have a day like we had (Saturday), you can’t let that affect how you come out the next time. We have to stay consistent and maintain the same intensity level for all nine innings.”
Nick Piotrowicz can be reached at 407-9951 or firstname.lastname@example.org