Garner Post 232 had an awful time getting away from an opportunistic Shelby Post 82 Saturday afternoon.
Garner doubled Shelby’s hit total, but four errors kept the Cleveland County team in the game until the 10th inning.
But that’s when Garner exploded, with Garrett Suggs’ one-out, two-run triple sparking a three-run knockout rally for a 6-3 victory on Day 2 of the N.C. American Legion State Tournament at Fleming Stadium.
Garner (24-5), which won state titles in 1999 and 2004, will play again Sunday night at 7:30 against the winner of Saturday’s rain-delayed late game between defending state champion Wilmington Post 10 and Lincoln County Post 455. Shelby (32-8) will play Randolph County Post 45 in the losers’ bracket at 12:30 p.m.
Suggs tripled and singled with a pair of RBI to lead Garner’s 14-hit attack, which featured five players with multiple-hit games.
Tyler Marshburn (2-1) was the winning pitcher for Garner, going four innings and allowing an unearned run on three hits with a strikeout and a walk, while Perry Gray faced four batters in the 10th to earn his first save. Ethan Carpenter took the loss in relief.
“It’s the state tournament, what do you expect?” Garner coach Chris Cook said. “Gutsy effort from Marshburn. Perry Gray didn’t think he’d be called on, and then we called on him in the 10th and he walks the leadoff man and then he settles down and does great.
“Suggs has been working out at N.C. State and it was worth every bit of it. What do you say? Clutch hit. Shelby had a lot of momentum there. But he came up big 3-1 and then he went for three, which most people don’t do on the left side. And we’re where we want to be in the tournament.”
Nick Stuart went 3-for-4 while Addison Braswell doubled and singled, Taylor Stephens added a pair of hits and an RBI and Keenan Herring two hits.
Cody Fitch had three of the seven hits for Shelby, which scored three unearned runs.
“We played about like we always play,” veteran Shelby coach Mike Grayson said. “We didn’t take advantage of some opportunities we had because they took them away from us. We had opportunities to break the game open and we didn’t and that’s a tribute to them. Everybody that made it here’s got a good squad. The bottom line is, we get to play more and if we like playing we’ll play a while.”
Kyle Boraski started for Garner and went five innings in a no-decision, allowing a pair of unearned runs on four hits with two strikeouts against a walk.
Shelby starter Nick Hastings lasted four innings, allowing three runs on six hits with two strikeouts and two walks.
Marshburn led off with 10th with a single up the middle and advanced on Carrington Austin’s bunt. After Zak Orrison walked, Suggs ripped his triple down the left-field line to make it 5-3 and then scored on a wild pitch. Herring and Stuart each had two-out singles before Carpenter was able to end the rally.
“It was a long game, and we were just battling all game,” said Suggs, who will get the mound start Sunday. “Finally coming up big for my team felt good. We were hitting the ball hard all day and finally got the big one to drop.”
Garner led 3-2 until there were two out in the seventh, when reliever Marshburn hit Jay Seagle in the back with the bases loaded.
“I was just going to throw that one down the middle and if he hit it he hit it,” Marshburn said. “I wanted a ground ball or a fly ball. But that one’s on me.
“In the 10th, I was just praying for a hit. We expected to get here, we got here and now we’re going to do what we can to win it.”