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The Shelbyville American Legion Post 37 baseball team rallied, but eventually lost its opening game of the Southeast Regional Tournament.
Florence (S.C.) Post 1 scored one run in the bottom of the eighth inning to slip by Shelbyville 5-4 Thursday afternoon at McCrary Park in Asheboro, N.C.
Post 37 must win today – it plays the loser of last night’s fourth game at 12:30 p.m. – to stay alive in the double-elimination tourney.
Florence (38-3) broke a 0-0 tie as well as Eddie Mathis’ no-hitter with a four-run fifth inning. Shelbyville (29-3), which was coming off its seventh state championship, rallied to tie the game by tallying two runs in the top of the seventh and two more in the eighth. However, Post 1 scored the game-winning run on a two-out walk in the bottom of the inning.
For a while it looked like neither team was going to score. Through 4 1/2 innings there had only been two hits, both by Post 37.
Mathis looked shaky at times, but behind a strong defense, and a little luck, he was able to shutdown Florence for the first four frames. He plunked Dickson Martin, the first batter in the bottom of the third, but then easily retired the side. In the fourth, he quickly got the first two batters out but then a walk and a balk put a runner on second. But again Mathis, a recent South Oldham graduate who is Bellarmine University-bound, was able to get out of the jam by inducing a groundball for the final out.
Mathis’ luck finally ran out in the fifth. Martin again led off, and it was deja vu as Mathis hit him for the second time. Weston Bailey followed with a double and McLean Hartz singled, as Post 1 plated the first run of the game. It wasn’t finished.
A sacrifice fly by C.J. Hopkins drove in another run. Mathis then gave up a single to Logan McRae before an error by Shelbyville second baseman Kipp Moore allowed Hartz to move to third and McRae to second.
Mathis got Garrett Bevill to ground out, but that brought in another run for Post 1. Jackson Williams then doubled McRae home. Mathis struck out Zach Herndon to end the inning, but the damage was done, as was Mathis. The southpaw, who went 8-0 during the regular season, gave up four earned runs on four hits while walking three and striking out three in five innings.
Shelbyville scored two runs in the seventh to chase Florence starter John Love. Love walked rising Shelby County senior Kyler Dugle to start the inning before giving up a single to recent Collins graduate Paul Miller. The next batter was Alex Doyle. The rising Collins senior dropped down a bunt. Love fielded the ball and tried to get Dugle at third, but his throw was wild and the ball sailed down the leftfield line. Dugle and Miller both scored on the play to cut Post 1’s lead in half. That was it for the 6-foot-7 Love, who gave up those two runs on four hits while walking three and striking out four in six innings.
Shelbyville tied the game in the eighth. Brady Pfaadt reached on a leadoff walk before recent Collins graduate Mason Jeffries doubled to right-center field. After Buddy Johnson popped out Dugle singled, scoring Pfaadt and moving E.J. Burk, who was running for Jeffries, to third. Florence then changed pitchers. Paul Miller greeted new hurler Zach McKay with a suicide squeeze bunt, which cored Burk to make it 4-all.
“We practice on that, we do that some. It worked fine,” Shelbyville Manager Jim Wiley said about the squeeze play. “You would hope that would motivate us enough to go on and beat them.”
Unfortunately for Wiley, and Post 37, it did not.
Dan Sanders cruised through his first two innings – giving up only one hit over the sixth and seventh – after relieving Mathis, but ran into trouble in the eighth.
First he gave up a leadoff single to Williams. He was erased moments later when Herndon hit into a fielder’s choice, but then Keshaun Samuel reached on an infield single before Sanders struck out Martin. Bailey then followed with a single to left field to load the bases. Sanders walked the next hitter, Hartz, to bring in the game-winning run.
McKay didn’t allow Shelbyville to threaten in the top of the ninth as he struck out Post 37’s Nos. 2-4 hitters – Drew Greenwood, Zac Wiley and Pfaadt – to end the game.
“A couple balls in the outfield weren’t caught and I thought we got called out at the plate not swinging the bat,” a dejected Jim Wiley said afterward. “That hurts, especially with men on base. Our pitcher [Mathis], he was getting behind a lot early in the game. We just sort of dug ourselves a hole and couldn’t get out of it. We got out part of the way, but couldn’t get all the way out.”
Jeffries and Dugle accounted for five of Shelbyville’s six hits. Jeffries went 3-for-4 at the plate while Dugle was 2-for-3 with one RBI and one run scored.
The last game of Thursday night, between Albemarie (Va.) Post 74 and host Dixon (N.C.) Post 45, determined who Shelbyville would face in today’s elimination game
American Legion Southeast Regional Tournament
Aug. 7-11 at McCrary Park in Asheboro, N.C.
Game 1 - Jacksonville (Fla.) Post 88 2, Tuscaloosa (Ala.) Post 34 1
Game 2 - Florence (S.C.) Post 1 5, Shelbyville Post 37 4
Florence (S.C.) 5, Shelbyville 4
Shelbyville Post 37 000 000 220 – 4 6 1
Florence (S.C.) Post 1 000 040 01X – 5 8 2
Eddie Mathis, Dan Sanders (6) and Brady Pfaadt. J.K. Love, Kam Dixon (7), Zach McKay (8) and Jackson Williams. W – McKay. L – Sanders (5-1). 2B – Mason Jeffries (S), Weston Bailey (F), Williams (F). Record – Shelbyville 29-3.
Game 3 - Covington (Ga.) Post 32 vs. Shelby (N.C.) Post 82
Game 4 - Albemarie (Va.) Post 74 vs. Dixon (N.C.) Post 45
Game 5 - Tuscaloosa (Ala.) Post 34 vs. Game 3 loser, 9:30 a.m.
Game 6 - Shelbyville Post 37 vs. Game 4 loser, 12:30 p.m.
Game 7 - Game 1 winner vs. Game 3 winner, 4:30 p.m.
Game 8 - Game 2 winner vs. Game 4 winner, 8 p.m.
Game 9 - Game 6 winner vs. Game 7 loser, 1 p.m.
Game 10 - Game 5 winner vs. Game 8 loser, 4 p.m.
Game 11 - Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 winner, 7:30 p.m.
Game 12 - Game 9 winner vs. Game 11 loser, 4:30 p.m.-x
Game 13 - Game 10 winner vs. Game 11 winner, 7:30 p.m.-x
Game 14 - Game 12 winner vs. Game 13 winner, 4:30 p.m.-y
Game 15 (if necessary) - Will be needed if Game 11 winner loses Game 13 or Game 12 winner wins game 14.
x-Pairings of Game 12 & 13 will not match previous opponents against each other unless absolutely necessary. y-If three teams remain after Game 13, the Game 11 winner automatically draws the bye for Game 14.
*All the regional tournament games will be broadcast on www.wkxr.com and can be followed online at http://www.legion.org/uploads/baseball/2013/livereg.htm