MARTINSVILLE — Just before Tuesday’s p.m. became Wednesday’s a.m., Rocky Mount Post 6 found a way to protect a lead.
It turned the game’s lone double play.
The twin-killing enabled Post 6 (6-2) to secure an 11-8 District F American Legion Seniors baseball victory over Martinsville Post 42 at Hooker Field in a contest that lasted nine innings and ended 30 minutes before midnight.
Post 6’s win is its second in a row and its second this season over Post 42. With two regular-season games remaining, Post 6 appears to be on course to clinching the No. 1 seed and a first-round bye in next week’s double-elimination, postseason tournament, which will determine District F’s representative in the Virginia State American Legion tournament.
Post 6 finishes regular-season play with a game today against Big Island Post 217 at City Stadium in Lynchburg and a contest Sunday against two-time reigning District F champion Lynchburg Post 16 at Heritage High School.
Post 42’s loss was its fifth in a row.
In the top of the ninth, Post 6 sent eight batters to the plate against Post 42 reliever Austin Custer and it was able to manufacture three runs to break an 8-8 stalemate.
Bailey Hall led off the frame with a double and a one-out, intentional walk to lead-off hitter Easton Forbes set up Logan Mason’s RBI single, which proved to be the game-winning hit.
Then, Grayson Chitwood drew a walk from Custer to load the bases.
With two outs, Post 42 committed an error on a ball put in play by Post 6 first baseman Jared Wright. The miscue allowed two runs to score, both of which were unearned.
With Post 6 right-hander Davis Ferguson working his second inning of relief, Post 42 opened the bottom of the ninth with a pair of base hits to bring the tying run to the plate.
Then, Ferguson, Post 6’s winning pitcher, coaxed Post 42’s third hitter of the frame to hit into a 6-4-3 (shortstop, second base, first base) double play. A strike out of Post 42’s next batter ended the drama.
The two teams combined for 30 hits — 16 by Post 42 and 14 by Post 6, but Post 42 committed six errors to two for Post 6. Four of Post 6’s runs were unearned.
Mason and Chitwood each collected three hits to pace Post 6, while Mullins and Wright each recorded two hits and Forbes (triple), Hall, Hunter Cannaday and Jay Mohler each registered one.
Seven players accounted for Post 42’s hits. Five of those players had multiple hits.
Custer, a right-hander who started a shortstop, took the mound in relief of Post 42 starter William Clark with two outs in the top of the sixth.
Post 42 led 4-0 after manufacturing all of those runs in the bottom of the second inning at the expense of Post 6 starting right-hander Jacob Moureau, but Post 6 kept Martinsville off the scoreboard until Post 42 scored twice in the seventh and twice in the eighth to produce 6-6 and 8-8 deadlocks.
Post 42 used two hits, a sacrifice fly, a bases-loaded walk and two Post 6 blunders, both committed by Mohler at shortstop, to tally those four runs.
Post 6 cut its deficit in half, 4-2, by scoring twice in the top of the third on two hits. In the fourth, Post 6 rallied for a run with two outs to close the difference to a run.
Post 42 left the bases loaded in the bottom of the first and loaded the bases in the last of the fourth, but failed to score.
In the top of the fifth Post 6 got a two-out, RBI single from Wright to even the count at 4. A two-out base hit in the top of the sixth produced Post 6’s first advantage, 5-4. In the seventh, Mohler, batting ninth in Post 6’s order, drew a bases-loaded walk to push the spread to two runs.
Post 6 righthander Will Turner took the mound in relief of Moureau in the second and retired the side with a strikeout. He hung zeroes on Post 42’s ledger in the third, fourth, fifth and sixth.
Turner registered his 10th strikeout in the bottom of the seventh for the second out of the frame.
But he surrendered a two-run double to Christian Easley, Post 42’s lead-off hitter, that enabled Martinsville to square the score.
Mason, a right-hand hitter, led off the top of the eighth with a triple to the opposite field and he scored on a Chitwood triple to right center field to break the tie. A one-out sacrifice fly by Wright made the count 8-6.
Ferguson took the mound in the bottom of the frame and was an out away from earning a save.
But with two runners on base, Ben Hylton’s two-run single to centerfield enabled Post 42 to extend the game.
Turner permitted six hits and a walk. Both of the runs he surrendered were earned.
Clark, with six, and Custer, with five, combined to strike out 11 Post 6 hitters. Post 6 did benefit from eight walks.
CIRCLING THE BASES: Post 6 avenged its season-opening, three-run loss to Christiansburg Post 59 last week with a 4-2 victory in a District F contest played at Christiansburg High School.
Post 6 outhit Post 59, 5-4, and benefited from two Post 59 errors while committing one defensive blunder.
Post 59 led 2-0 after scoring single runs in the second and fourth frames.
Post 6 rallied for a run in the top of the fifth to cut its deficit in half.
In the top of the seventh, Rocky Mount manufactured three runs to claim the victory.
Turner tossed a complete-game, four-hitter. He struck out five and walked two. Only one of Post 59’s runs was earned.
Four players accounted for Post 59’s hits, each with one.
Post 6’s Matthew Holley collected the game’s lone extra-base hit, a double.
Hall led Post 6 with two hits, while Chitwood and Noah Basham each recorded a hit.
CIRCLING THE BASES II: Post 42 improved its overall record to 4-6 with a 3-2 District F win over Danville Post 325 Wednesday night at Hooker Field.
Easley drove in the winning run in the bottom of the ninth when he singled off an 0-1 pitch.
Post 42 broke a 1-1 tie by scoring a run in the last of the third.
Post 325 tallied the equalizer in the top of the sixth.
Each team scored a run in its half of the second.
Post 325 outhit Post 42, 10-6, but was plagued by five errors. Post 42 was charged wioth four errors.
CIRCLING THE BASES III: Post 6’s Junior squad dropped a 5-3 District F decision to Martinsville Post 42 Tuesday at Hooker Field.
Post 42 led from wire-to-wire in claiming its second victory this season over Post 6.
Post 42 is coached by former Ferrum College pitcher Sam Suite, who completed his first year as Magna Vista’s head coach in the spring.
Post 42 scored two runs in the bottom of the first inning and three runs in the last of the third to build a 5-0 advantage.
Post 6 tallied two runs in the top of the fourth courtesy of a one-out, bases-loaded single by Ethan Davis and an RBI ground out by Robert Pagans.
In the fifth, Post 6 manufactured its final run on a one-out double to right field by Konner Strong, an infield single by Isaiah Ayers and an RBI fielder’s choice by Matthew Thompson.
Post 6 brought the go-ahead run to the plate in the top of the seventh with two outs. Post 6’s record is 5-9. Post 6 has accepted three forfeit wins: two over Roanoke Post 3 and one over Patrick County Post 105.
Post 6 has three regular-season games remaining before the beginning of the District F’s postseason tournament: today against Big Island Post 217 at City Stadium in Lynchburg, Monday (July 15) against Lynchburg Post 16 at Heritage High School and Wednesday (July 17) against Halifax Post 8 at Halifax County High School in South Boston.
Paxton Tucker surrendered eight hit in a complete-game win for Post 42. He permitted three runs, all earned, and three walks, while striking out six.
Seth Martin was 1 of 3 and drove in a run. Yieson Sosa drove in a run and scored twice and Tucker plated a run.
Also, Elliott Underwood collected two hits and scored once, while Conner Plaster and Trevor Barnes each contributed a hit and tallied a run and Daniel Pendleton registered a hit.