Garner Cleveland: Sports

Garner Nationals Legion team makes it six of their first seven

Garner's Sammy Chapman (5) gets home in the top of the second inning on a passed ball. Garner defeated Eastern Randolph 15-10.
Garner's Sammy Chapman (5) gets home in the top of the second inning on a passed ball. Garner defeated Eastern Randolph 15-10.

At times it seemed as if the game might never end.

The Garner Nationals issued 10 walks, while host Eastern Randolph Post 81 committed nine errors.

And at one point the Nationals had a 12-run lead. But the hosts fought back to prevent the game from being stopped on run differential, and Garner held on for a 15-10 win on what turned out to be a cool Wednesday night at Grady Lawson Field.

The result in the non-league American Legion contest improved the Nats to 6-1, while Post 81 dropped to 3-9.

“We can swing it, and we hit the ball well,” said Nationals coach Chris Cook, which sports several players who already have college playing experience while Post 81 has none. “But our bullpen has got to throw strikes.

“We’re pretty strong one through nine. And we got a couple of beautiful bunts from Wade Chandler. Our hitting is giving the pitching staff a little leeway, but we don’t want to give them too much leeway.”

Langdon Wilson, a Middle Creek alum who just finished his first season at Gardner-Webb, was the winning pitcher in relief of starter Caleb Bissette. Brayden King, who just finished at Southern Alamance, took the defeat.

“Both pitching staffs had a hard time figuring out the strike zone,” said Post 81 skipper Jerry Kidd, who coaches at Providence Grove High. “But we made nine errors and still had a chance.”

Garner finished with 13 hits to 11 for the hosts.

Sammy Chapman, a Middle Creek grad headed to Richmond in the fall, led his team with two doubles and a single for four RBI. Wade Chandler, a rising junior with the Mustangs, added three hits including a pair of bunt singles with an RBI.

“I was seeing good fastballs to hit and put the bat on them well,” Chapman said. “This is a great team to be on. We’ve got a lot of stars and some good arms.”

The hosts got a pair of runs on three Bissette walks in the first inning.

Garner came back strong, scoring the next 14 runs. The Nationals sent 14 batters to the plate in an eight-run fifth inning that included just three hits to five Post 81 errors.

But the hosts scored four in the sixth, two in the seventh and two more in the eighth before Cole Hinnant came on for a 1-2-3 inning in the ninth.

“We’re pretty good at the mental part of the game,” said Hinnant, a Clayton High alum who pitched for Francis Marion this season. “And a lot of the younger guys are just learning how to play nine innings. This is a good group to play with.”