Coleman-Pitt Post 58 needed all its pitching to win its Area I West first round playoffs series, three tight games in which the winner scored in double digits and won by no more than three runs.
The downside: the rotation was empty for Monday’s semifinal opener.
No. 4 seed Post 58 had one day of rest before the beginning of a five-game semifinals series Monday, and despite a solid start, it ran out of arms in a 12-3 loss to first-seeded Raleigh Post 1 in Game 1 at Legion Field.
David Williams, normally a catcher, started the game for Post 58 and threw three scoreless innings, but Post 1 caught up with him in its second at-bats.
Post 1 scored seven runs in the bottom of the fourth inning, knocked out Williams and took a five-run lead.
With Post 58 at the end of the line in terms of pitching, the outcome was all but assured. Post 1 tacked on two in the fifth and three in the sixth to build a comfortable edge.
“We didn’t have a kid that we normally count on to throw that should’ve been throwing (Monday),” Post 58 coach Hank Jones said. “David has good stuff; he just doesn’t pitch. I expected him to get tired pretty quick, which he did, and I probably left him in there a little too long.”
For a short while Monday, Post 58 looked like it might cheat its pitching situation.
Williams kept Post 1 quiet through three innings, then helped his own cause in the top of the fourth with an RBI single. An error immediately after Williams’ at-bat scored another run, and Post 58 held a 2-0 edge.
Post 1, which hadn’t played since June 28 in Rocky Mount, believed it was in for a drawn-out game that would come down to the late innings.
“When they scored two runs – I mean, they score a lot of runs. Anything under six, I’m shocked,” Post 1 coach Aaron Rich said. “I pulled (the team) together and told them let’s keep going out there and pounding.”
With Post 1 ahead, 12-2, going into the seventh, Post 58 was in jeopardy of succumbing to the mercy rule, which is 10 runs after seven innings.
Post 58 was able to stave off an early defeat with two infield hits in the seventh inning. Griffin Parker hustled out a ground ball for a two-out hit, which scored Luke Mills and prolonged the game.
Post 1 then had to play out the remainder of the game, throwing two extra innings from its bullpen.
During the course of a long series, Jones hopes that could prove significant.
“I thought it was big just to make it go nine innings,” Jones said. “Make them throw some pitches. I know it sounds kind of crazy, but it’s hopefully a five-game series.”
Post 1 received a boon with its Game 1 victory because it could be a tiebreaker, if needed. The series, no matter which team wins it, must be completed by the end of Saturday.
If bad weather prevents the series from being completed, the Game 1 winner advances to the Area I West finals. Eastern North Carolina is expected to see severe thunderstorms this week.
With a Game 2 win tonight, however, Jones said the staff will reset. Should that happen, Post 58 feels great about its chances.
“If we can get by (tonight) – my goal was to split the first two games,” Jones said. “With our pitching situation the way it is, I thought we’d be doing real good if we could split the first two. Then we’d have everybody back. But we gotta force it to that.”
Nick Piotrowicz can be reached at 407-9952 or npiotrowicz @rmtelegram.com