Cary Post 67 became just the latest victim of the new-look Garner Nationals.
The Nationals, who inherited players from West Johnston and South Johnston high schools after a re-shuffling of the American Legion baseball landscape, extended their undefeated season with a 15-9 win on Tuesday.
The Nationals are the offspring of the former Post 232 team whose core still includes players from Garner, Fuquay-Varina and Grace Christian.
“There’s that magic enrollment number (5,000) and we were able to stay under it by taking those two (West Johnston and South Johnston) and it filled some holes that we needed to fill and it’s paid off so far,” Nationals manager Chris Cook said.
Two of those additions came up big against Cary as Jack Sherrill and Trip Atkinson, both of West Johnston, combined for three hits and four RBIs as Garner ran its record to 11-0 overall and 2-0 in the Area 1 West Conference.
All nine Nationals batters hit safely as Garner pounded out 15 hits and put together a six-run second inning and a five-run fourth. Saylon Kieft had three hits and drove in a pair of runs. Jordan Bissette had three hits including a double and an RBI while Atkinson and Taylor Stephens each had two hits to go along with two RBI’s.
“We came out and hit,” Cook said.
Despite building a 13-2 lead by the fifth inning, the Nationals had trouble putting Cary away. A three-run homerun by Thomas Yoder in the home half of the fifth sparked a string of seven unanswered runs over the next two frames. Yoder and John Voltz each singled home runs in the sixth to pull Cary within reach at 13-9 before the rally stalled.
“That’s Legion baseball for you,” Clark said. “You just try to get a big lead and hold on. That’s it.”
“These kids will play hard no matter what the situation is and I’m proud of them in that sense,” Cary manager Scott Pose said. “But you’ve got to give Garner credit. They swung the bats well and hit the ball extremely hard. We didn’t make pitches when we needed to – especially early – and they took advantage and made it a tough road for us.”
The loss dropped Cary to 4-6 overall and 2-3 in conference play.
Yoder finished 3-for-5 with four RBIs for Cary while Nick Venditti collected a pair of hits of his own. While the top six hitters in Cary’s lineup went a combined 9-for-24, the bottom of the order was a combined 0-for-11.
Josh Greene worked five innings from the mound to pick up the win while Preston Moser was tagged with the loss.
The Nationals opened up the second inning with three straight singles before Chandler Jones clubbed a two-run double to the gap in left-centerfield. Two more runs came home on an infield single off the bat of Sherrill and Kieft singled home another run to chase Moser off the mound.
In the fourth, Garner hit three doubles including a two-run shot from Stephens and RBI hits by Atkinson and Nick Stuart.
“We knew they were a good team,” Pose said. “They can swing the bats and their pitchers threw with good velocity for the most part. They’re a solid ballclub.”