Good pitching and timely hitting just keeps adding to wins for Garner’s American Legion Baseball squad. Post 232 completed a three-game regular-season series sweep of rival Apex Post 124 Sunday night with a 9-2 victory.
Graham Edwards provided most of the good pitching with seven innings of five-hit ball, while Zak Orrison drove in four runs, going 3-for-5 with a double and a home run.
Garner (10-1 overall, 3-0 conference) outscored Apex 39-7 in the series.
“When you give up seven runs to a team in a three-game series, obviously, your pitching is doing the job,” said Post 232 manager Chris Cook. “We can pitch it and we played with a different lineup tonight, without (Garrett) Suggs, who’s going to State, and (x) Daniels, who’s headed to Carolina. It’s good to play with different lineups and still see the guys be able to do things.”
Apex took a brief 1-0 lead Sunday night at Trojan Park in the top of the first but Garner answered with a run of its own in the bottom half, doing something Post 232 has rarely done this season: draw walks.
Garner took advantage of eight free passes issued by Post 124 batters on the night. Kendall Herring had two free passes, while six other Garner batters walked as well.
“We have been through about 400 at bats this season and that’s the one thing we haven’t done,” Cook said. “We only had about 20 walks entering tonight’s game and that’s something we want to see change.
“It’s just one of those things that stands out. It’s all just a part of trying to keep getting better.”Post 232 went ahead for good in the fourth when three consecutive walks – the last two Carrington Austin forcing home a run – helped piece together a three-run frame.
In the seventh, Orrison doubled home former Fuquay-Varina High teammate D.J. Burt and Orrison later scored on a wild pitch.
The eighth for Garner saw Burt and Lucas Scott walk before Orrison homered to left.
Apex put two runners on in the seventh and loaded the bases in the ninth but couldn’t produce runs on either occasion.
“It’s one of those years where a lot of our guys are rising seniors, so they’re playing travel ball a lot as well as playing with us,” said Apex manager Tim Harrell. “And we’ve got some guys coming back from college who didn’t play last year for various reasons, so it’s been tough to find that consistency you need.”
Post 124 stood 2-9 overall and 1-4 in the conference entering this week and needs a big showing against Johnston County in a three-game set running Friday, Saturday and Sunday to keep its playoff hopes alive. Apex hosts the Friday and Sunday night affairs in that series.
In order to succeed there, Post 124 will need to finish games better than it has been so far this season. Apex has lost after leading by five runs on four different occasions and saw a seven-run lead slip away against Durham as well.
“That’s part of the youth,” Harrell said. “The longest innings in Legion Baseball are the seventh, eighth and ninth. Maybe at times, we’ve got to the fourth or fifth inning and started thinking about winning. There’s a long way to go still once you get to that point.
“We need some guys to step up, a guy, to be that finisher for us in the late innings.”
Apex had to string together a pitching staff Sunday night, using four pitchers against Garner. Post 124 gave up six earned runs, five of those in the game’s final four innings as Garner pulled away.
Post 232 pitchers scattered six hits across the Apex lineup. Post 124 lead off man Luke Harvey was 2-for-4 at the plate, while Alex Yarem had Apex’s only RBI of the night.
Yarem took the pitching loss, thanks to a three-run Garner third. Chase Dennison worked an inning and two thirds of relief without allowing a Post 232 hit.