The York Post 66 Junior American Legion baseball team defeated Lancaster 5-2 in Thursdsay’s action at the York Comprehensive High School baseball complex.
Dominant pitching by right-handed hurler Caleb Clayton and timely hitting proved to be too much for the visitors from Lancaster.
Shandon Cobb had a key hit that plated two runs as Post 66 built a lead in the early innings.
There were also outstanding defensive plays, not the least of which was shortstop John Moorefield’s defensive gem in the top of the fifth inning.
Moorefield fielded a ground ball, stepped on second base and rifled a throw to first for a double play, putting to rest a potential rally by the Lancaster team.
Leading 5-2 in the bottom of the sixth, Post 66 had another scoring threat going as Ryan Gilbert singled to open the inning. Later, with two outs, Jae’vion Matthews singled to right-field.
The runners advanced to second and third, but Post 66 was unable to bring Gilbert and Matthews home.
It didn’t matter as the York Junior Legion team made the 5-2 lead stand for a big win in the division.
Post 66 head coach Chris Stephenson lauded the players for contributing in every phase of the game.
“We had a strong pitching performance by Caleb Clayton in his first mound start of the year,” Stephenson said. “The kids hit the ball well tonight and played good defense.”
Clayton, a rising junior at York Comprehensive High School, spoke with confidence after the game, while speaking in glowing terms of his teammates.
“I felt good on the mound and pitched with confidence,” Clayton said. “Our defensive play gave me a lift, especially John Moorefield’s double play in the top of the fifth.”
Clayton said stamina sometimes becomes an issue when a pitcher goes the distance.
“I tired a little,” he said. “I thought after two innings I would try to make it two more innings, and two after that.
“My teammates kept playing good defense and that provided the encouragement I needed,” he said.
Clayton got into a comfort zone in pitching a complete game before the home fans.
“I went with my fastball most of the time,” he said. “I threw a slider from time to time, but didn’t feel the need to use my change-up.”
Stephenson hasn’t been surprised by the team’s success this season.
“Our kids have played together a long time and they are hitting the ball this season,” he said. “We’ve outhit our opponents in every game, including the two games we lost.”
Said Stephenson, “The key to continued success the remainder of the season is not to walk anybody, not to make errors and to hit the ball. When we do those things, we can play with anybody.”
Post 66 had a record of 5-2 entering this week’s play.
Stephenson said he feels good about the team’s potential to finish strong and to make some noise in the playoffs.
The playoffs will begin at the conclusion of regular season play at the end of June, with first-round playoff action to include a best-of-three series against a team from another region.
“Our goal is to win the opening series and the state championship,” Stephenson said. “We have our work cut out for us, but we have a great group of kids who are always ready to play.”
Post 66 was scheduled to play at Rock Hill Post 34 on Wednesday.
The next home game is Monday, June 23, against rival Clover at 7 p.m. at the YCHS baseball complex.
Following a June 25 game at Lancaster, the York Junior Legion team closes out regular season play with home games against Fort Mill June 26 and Rock Hill June 30. All of the games start at 7 p.m.