As June becomes July in the world of American Legion Baseball, the focus shifts from a mindset of winning games to winning series. Because that’s what keeps your season moving along: winning playoff series.
With the start of the playoffs on the horizon, the Garner Nationals took a break from their push for playoff seeding and prevailed in its “series” of games in the Palmetto Legion Invitational at American Legion Field.
The Nationals (15-4) won two of their three games over the weekend, topping a 15-1 ranked Chicopee, Mass. team, beating Manning (S.C.) 13-3 and falling to Camden (S.C.). Garner rallied from a 4-1 deficit to top Chicopee, then set a tournament record for doubles in a game with an even 10 in a Sunday victory over Manning.
“We played some good baseball teams down here, which is what we wanted to do,” said Garner manager Chris Cook. “Camden hit the ball well. I thought maybe we threw them too many strikes at times, but we came back and won the next game and were able to win two out of three.”
Lucas Scott went 3-for-4 with three RBIs in the win over Chicopee. Garner trailed 4-1 in the fifth of a seven-inning game but Scott singled in a run and Tripp Atkinson tied the game with a two-run single. Garner went ahead when Atkinson scored on a misplayed fly ball.
Nationals’ starter Josh Greene struggled with walks early but settled down to get the win, allowing five hits in four innings. South Johnston grad Lane Johnson worked the final two innings for the save.
Eight different Nationals’ batters had hits in the loss to Camden. Jack Sherrill, Taylor Stephens and Atkinson’s hits were doubles.
The first round of the Area I West playoffs is best-of-three series between the No. 4 and 5 seeds. Garner wrapped up its regular season slate with games against Cary and Roxboro earlier this week. Garner was tied for second entering the week. The second round opens July 7 with another best-of-five series for the Area I West semifinals.