Garner Post 232 has been making things look very easy in Area 1 West Legion baseball play this summer.
And Sunday’s doubleheader at North Chatham proved to be no exception, as the visitors won in a couple of blowouts to complete a three-game sweep.
Southpaw Graham Edwards, who recently graduated from Middle Creek, fired a one-hit complete seven-inning game in the opener as Garner won 9-0.
Chatham was better in the nightcap, keeping it close before the visitors scored eight runs over the final three innings to win going away 11-2.
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The victories improved Garner to 12-1, 6-0 in division play as it prepares for a weekend showdown with archrival Johnston County Post 71. North Chatham fell to 3-12 and 1-5.
“Doubleheaders are hard to sweep,” Garner coach Chris Cook said. “We had good pitching and hit the ball well, and it seemed like they ran out of pitching. But we did what we had to do.”
Chatham coach Brian Koltz said his team just succumbed to superior pitching in the opener and tough Garner bats in the nightcap.
“We played a pretty good squad,” Koltz said. “They always play good ball. I thought we’d get to them more than we did in the second game. We always battle and never give up. You’ve got to go right at it. We haven’t had a lot of success, but we’ve got a lot of guys who battle.”
Garner got 10 hits in the opener including a solo homer and a two-run single from Fuquay-Varina alumnus Addison Braswell, who played at Pitt Community College last season.
Edwards (5-0) allowed just one baserunner, that when Chatham starting pitcher Chad Fisher – a Chapel Hill alum and rising sophomore at Brevard – hit a leadoff single in the fourth. Eight Chatham batters struck out.
“I felt pretty good,” said Edwards, who pitched for the winning Mustangs in the 2012 state 4A title game but missed a big chunk of this spring’s season with a pulled hamstring. “I’ve only been throwing about once a week. I had good control and was doing a pretty good job hitting my spots. I was just getting ahead of batters, keeping it down and working quickly.”
The key inning was the visitors’ five-run third, which included Braswell’s two-run single. Garner alum Taylor Stephens went 3-for-4 with a steal in the opener.
“I was feeling good and seeing the ball well today,” said Braswell, who finished 5-for-8 with the homer, a double, two steals and four RBI in the twin bill. “I’ve been struggling for a little while, so it was nice to finally start seeing it.”
Chatham scored first in the nightcap off southpaw Fuquay-Varina alum Perry Gray, as Northwood alum Chase Golden hit his first of two doubles in the game and scored on a single from Charger classmate Ross Cooper.
But the visitors tied it off Chapel Hill alum Zach Jansen as Braswell led off with a double and scored on a single from Garner alum Carrington Austin, and then went ahead for good on a two-out solo homer in the fourth from rising Mount Olive sophomore and Fuquay-Varina alum Zak Orrison.
Garner alum Tyler Marshburn, who played with Braswell at Pitt C.C., had an RBI single and scored during 232’s three-run rally in the fifth and started a five-run seventh with a leadoff homer.
“I struggled a little bit today and didn’t hit the ball up the middle like I should have,” Marshburn said. “But other than that it was an all-right weekend.”
Golden, whose team finished with six hits in the nightcap, said 232 is a pretty impressive club.
“The first pitcher they threw against us was real solid,” Golden said. “Gray threw some good breaking balls, but we were able to get to him some. I think when I hit the leadoff double it got us going a little bit.”