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Post 8 bombs in opener; rebounds to split with Martinsville

It was fortunate that the South Boston American Legion Post 8 Junior Legion baseball team could play two games against Martinsville Post 42 Friday night.

Going with a lineup consisting of a majority of the team’s younger players, Post 8 Head Coach Jody Nelson could only watch helplessly as Martinsville Post 42 rolled to an 11-0 lead after three innings and cruised to an easy 14-1 win over Post 8 in a game stopped after five innings under a slaughter rule.

Nelson went back to his normal lineup for the nightcap, and with hurler Kashawn Hilliard throwing a complete game and allowing seven hits while fanning five batters and walking two, Post 8 bounced back for a 9-2 win.

The loss in Friday night’s opener was Post 8’s first loss in District 9 play.

“We have to start giving the younger guys some exposure and some (playing) time,” Nelson pointed out.

“We’re starting to get into a grind with a lot of games. They played okay.”

The problem for Post 8 was that just about every pitch that Martinsville Post 42 converted into a hit, especially at the outset, was either just over someone’s head or just a few feet away from an infielder’s grasp.

“We just couldn’t catch a break,” Nelson pointed out.

“I think the combined distance of their (Martinsville’s) first six hits would be at about 1,000 feet. They just found a hole. You can’t defend against it.”

In the opener, Martinsville Post 42 nailed Post 8 for four runs in the first inning, added three more runs in the second inning and posted four more runs in the third inning to gain an 11-0 lead.

Two more runs in the top of the fourth inning and a run in the top of the fifth inning gave Martinsville Post 42 a 14-0 lead before South Boston managed to score its only run of the game with a run-scoring double from Tripp Bennett with one out in the inning.

Post 8 had only four hits in the game, with Bennett, Jacob McKinney, Kelonte Gutrich and Matt Ratliff each getting one hit. 

Martinsville Post 42 had 16 hits in the game and took advantage of four South Boston errors. Trevor Martin, Caleb Davis and Jared Burrell led Martinsville Post 42 with three hits each. Davis had three RBIs, and Burrell had two RBIs.

It was a totally different Post 8 team on the field in the second game.

Hilliard held Martinsville Post 42 to four hits through the first four innings and allowed only seven in the game.

“Kashawn set the tone in the first inning, and, offensively, we capitalized on some mistakes they made, “ Nelson pointed out.

“He really pitched well and had a complete game. Kashawn pitched to contact. He didn’t have a lot of strikeouts, but he set the tone.”

Two hits in the second inning allowed Martinsville Post 42 to take a 1-0 lead, but Post 8 rallied to score two runs in the bottom of the third inning to take a 2-1 lead it never lost.

Holt Powell walked to start the inning, and Tristan Howerton reached base on an error to give Post 8 two runners on the sacks. Will Harris picked up his second straight hit in the game, a two-RBI double, to score Powell and Howerton and give Post 8 the lead.

Post 8 broke the game open with four runs in the bottom of the fourth inning. Run-scoring hits from Howerton and Harris, a Martinsville error and a run-scoring sacrifice fly to the outfield from McKinney put South Boston up 6-1.

South Boston added three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning, all on Martinsville Post 42 errors, to up its lead to 9-1.

Martinsville Post 42 took advantage of a Post 8 error in the top of the seventh inning to add a run, but it was too little too late as Post 8 sewed up a 9-2 win.

Harris led Post 8 with a 3-3 night at the plate that included three RBIs. McKinney and Ryan Powell chipped in two hits each. Howerton, Jake Hughes and Powell each had one hit.

Martinsville Post 42 had seven hits, with Burrell leading the team with two hits.