The York Post 66 Junior American Legion baseball team opened playoff action with a 13-0 shellacking of the Spartanburg Junior Legion team Monday night.
Playing at the York Comprehensive High School baseball complex, Post 66 broke the game open in the bottom of the third inning, scoring eight runs and building the lead to 9-0.
Jaevion Matthews was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning. He stole second, then scored when John Moorefield belted a double into the right-center gap.
Caleb Clayton’s fly ball to left field was misplayed, sending Moorefield across the plate.
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With two outs, Ryan Ennis drew a walk. Shandon Cobb then delivered an RBI single to score Clayton.
After Will McSwain’s single scored a York run, an error by the Spartanburg left-fielder sent another run across the plate.
Post 66 continued to flourish with two outs. Trent Alexander singled and Matthews walked to load the bases.
Back-to-back RBI singles by Moorefield and Harrison Childers put the game out of reach for Spartanburg as York’s lead ballooned to 9-0.
Post 66’s offensive production continued in the fourth, sending four runs across the plate. With one out and the bases empty, Cobb drew a walk. With two outs and Cobb at first, Ryan Gilbert singled, leaving runners at first and second. Alexander walked to load the bases.
Matthews walked and Moorefield was hit by pitch, each sending a run across the plate. Peyton Stephenson followed with a two-run single to close out the scoring.
Moorefield retired the side in the top of the fifth, and York prevailed through the 10-run mercy rule.
“Our goal every game is to have no walks, no errors and to hit the ball,” said Post 66 head coach Chris Stephenson. “I know that sounds simple, but that’s the way teams win.”
Stephenson praised Moorefield for his contributions in all phases of the game.
“John had a strong pitching performance and fielded the ball well from the mound,” Stephenson said. “We discussed whether to use him as the starting pitcher, the way he plays shortstop.”
“There are a good many York Junior Legion pitchers who can get the job done. We’re blessed at the pitching position,” said Stephenson.
Moorefield said fielding the ball from the mound becomes natural. “I’ve had a lot of experience fielding the ball at shortstop,” he said. “I pitched with confidence once I got past the first inning. You have to make adjustments.”
Moorefield said the Cougars are tough to beat when they hit the ball as a team.
Childers, a catcher since he began playing organized baseball at age 8, said Moorefield settled down and pitched well after a couple of walks in the first inning.
“We have several pitchers that can get it done,” Childers said. “It helps us win games.”
Ennis made his presence felt in the top of the first inning, when it appeared the Spartanburg Legion team would assume an early lead. With a Spartanburg runner digging for third, Ennis made a textbook throw from right field to end the inning and put the skids on Spartanburg’s scoring threat.
Ennis said after that game that he surprised himself Monday night.
“I’ve been out of town and haven’t practiced,” he said. “I returned today and played OK.
“I work on the throw from right-field to third at practice. It felt good when I turned it loose.”
Stephenson said he feels good about Post 66’s chances of making a deep run in the state playoffs.
“Our kids have played together a long time,” he said. “If things fall into place the way I expect, we will host a second-round playoff series game Monday at the YCHS baseball complex.”