Doughboys walkoff into West Regional championshipIn Haywood Post 47’s final at bat, Messer drives in tying run, Meece the winning run
Nathan Messer (Tuscola) drilled a out-out RBI double to tie the game and Ethan Meece (Tuscola) followed with a single to drive in the winning run to give the Haywood Post 47 Doughboys a 5-4 walkoff win over North Lincoln Post 4 Black in the bottom of the eighth inning in Game 4 of the Area IV Junior Legion West Regional Saturday at Tuscola Ballpark.
“Our first two game were not our best performances,” said Post 47 Manager Eryk McConnell, “But they were good enough. I thought we were so tight. I am so proud of their effort. They kept grinding out there for every pitch, every at bat. And what a comeback in the eighth inning. I loved seeing our kids react the way they did. To me, these games mean something to them.”
Earlier in the West Regional, the No. 1 seed Doughboys beat No. 4 seed North Lincoln Post 4 Blue, 4-1. The two wins improved the Haywood Post 47 junior legion team to 18-6 overall.
The walkoff win sent the Doughboys into Sunday’s Area IV West Regional championship game. They played the North Lincoln Blue-North Lincoln Black winner in the elimination game. At press time, no results were available.
If the Doughboys managed to win Sunday’s championship game, they will advance into next weekend’s Area IV Championship Tournament, July 12-14, hosted by the Mint Hill Marines Post 4059 at Charlotte Independence High School.
If Post 47 lost Sunday, they will be forced to play tonight at 7 p.m. at Tuscola Ballpark with the winner of Game 7 advancing to the Area IV Tournament.
Tied at three in the top of the eighth in the first day’s final game, North Lincoln Black scored a run off Meece, who relieved starter Jace Milkey (Smoky Mountain).
The West regional host Doughboys responded in clutch fashion in their final at bat.
After catcher Kevin Allred went down swinging to lead off the eighth, centerfielder Travis Holden (Smoky Mountain) coaxed a walk, raced to second on a wild pitch and stole third during Messer’s at bat.
Once he got 90-feet away from home plate, Messer ripped an RBI double off the left field wall to tie the game at four.
Meece stepped to the plate and on the third pitch, lined a center-cut, belt-high fastball off the right-center field wall to drive in the winning run.
And a spontaneous celebration on the field immediately followed.
North Lincoln Black scored twice in the third inning on an RBI single and a two-out throwing error by shortstop Brett Baldwin.
Haywood Post 47 sliced the deficit to 2-1 when rightfielder Jacob Clark (Murphy), who led off the inning with a triple, scored on Milkey’s fielder’s choice.
The Doughboys regained the advantage in the fourth (3-2)on Trae Bradley’s (Swain County) RBI double and Clark’s RBI groundout to third.
In the fifth, North Lincoln Black tied it at three when hit a batter with the bases full.
Bradley finished with two hits for the Doughboys.
Meece, who pitched the eighth, got the win. Milkey went seven innings, gave up five hits, struck out three, but issued five walks and hit two batters.
In the first game against North Lincoln Blue, Post 47 right-handed pitcher Austin Dahl (Franklin) carried a perfect game into the fourth, but lost it when he issued a walk. Then he carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning but lost it when he gave up a bloop single.
But Dahl still won the game, giving up one hit, one unearned run, in six innings and struck out seven batters. Tall lefty Jacob Bates (Murphy) shut the door in the seventh and earned the save.
In the second, Baldwin drove in Holden and Bradley with a two-out, RBI single to give the Doughboys a 2-0 lead.
Haywood Post 47 made it 3-1 in the fourth when Bradley drove in Clark, who was the courtesy runner for catcher Kevin Allred (Smoky Mountain), with a sharp single to left center.
Then the hot-hitting Bradley struck again in the sixth inning when he lined another RBI single, driving in Holden.
Bradley finished with two hits in the game and four hits on the first day of the Area IV Junior Legion West Regional.
Holden and Baldwin had two hits in the first game against North Lincoln Blue.