ROCKINGHAM — American Legion Post 147 knew what it needed to do to force a deciding game with the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office.
And Post 147 pulled it off.
Post 147 scored in each of the first three innings and then stifled a rally in the seventh to pull out an 11-9 victory over the Sheriff’s Office Thursday night in the “O” Zone division at Civitan Park.
“We sat on our best pitcher to the end,” Post 147 coach Joseph Grant said. “We knew we could hold onto the lead with him on the mound.”
Grant was talking about Justice Buie, who started the contest behind the plate. Buie took to the mound in the bottom of the sixth and recorded five strikeouts in two innings to earn the save.
Post 147 built a 9-4 lead heading into the bottom of the third inning before the Sheriff’s Office started to chip into the advantage. The Sheriff’s Office plated three runs in the bottom of the fifth to pull within 9-8.
After a scoreless sixth by both teams, Post 147 tacked on two runs in the top half of the seventh to extend its lead to 11-8. Joseph Grant reached on a single and Pettitt followed with a single of his own. Both Grant and Pettitt scored on a single by Jarrett Morse and an error by the Sheriff’s Office.
“That was a big hit for us in the seventh,” Grant said.
In the bottom half of the frame, the Sheriff’s Office sent the bottom part of its lineup to the plate against Buie, but still managed to push a run across and had the game-tying run at the plate. Damion Hunt doubled and scored on a single by Will Thompson. Buie settled down got the final two hitters to strike out and ground out to end the contest.
The Sheriff’s Office issued nine base on balls in the game and also hit a batter. Five of those baserunners came around to score.
“We struggled throwing strikes,” said Bo Honeycutt, coach of the Sheriff’s Office.
The Post 147 victory forced a winner-take-all second contest between the two teams. The game wasn’t completed at deadline.
Both coaching staffs agreed it wasn’t surprising to see the championship extended to the final contest.
“All three teams in the league were competitive,” Honeycutt said.
“It was a good game,” Grant said. “It’s been like this all year.”
In the championship game, Post 147 defeated The Sheriff’s Office 4-0.
Reach managing editor Shawn Stinson at 910-817-2671 and follow him on Twitter @scgolfer.