Post 43 felt good about returning to the playoffs after a two-year hiatus. But a hot-hitting Gaffney Post 109 swept the best-of-five series, ending Fort Mill's season.
Gaffney clinched the series with a 13-1 win last Wednesday. Post 109 made 20 hits, and the game was called after seven innings by the mercy rule. Gaffney outscored Fort Mill 43-5 in the three games. Fort Mill lost six of its final seven contests to fall to 9-9.
In the season-finale Post 109 took an early 1-0 lead by taking advantage of a Fort Mill error. Gaffney's Michael Hughey singled with one out in the second inning. Hughey moved to second on Bobby Jackson's groundout. Bubba Wright followed with a sharp grounder down the third base line.
Post 43 third baseman David Flanagan dove to his right to smother the ball, robbing Wright of an extra base hit. Flanagan threw to first from his backside - way too late to get Wright. Hughey alertly took off for third. Fort Mill first baseman Chris Honeycutt threw back across the diamond, past Flanagan, who was covering the bag.
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Hughey trotted home with the first run of the game.
Fort Mill coach Erik Baddeley said several times this season that fielding errors and mental miscues were costing his team games.
Fort Mill has been a pretty good bet to make it into the American Legion playoffs for years. Post 43's last appearance was in 2005, according to Legionnaire Doug Chapman.
For the season, Flanagan was 5-2 on the mound and hit .441 to lead Post 43 this season. Honeycutt hit .410 with two homers. J.R. Romano led the team in steals with 11 and batted .323. Kyle Whitman finished with a .368 batting average.
Baddeley said he is proud of his team.
"We had a good season. We're not happy with the way we finished, but we made the playoffs," Baddeley said.