The York Post 66 Junior Legion team faced off against Socastee in the first round of the state tournament, losing 10-7 despite outhitting its opponent 10-8 in the Saturday game.
“We gave up too much too early,” said head coach Chris Stephenson.
Socastee scored four runs in the first inning and two in the second inning to mount a 6-0 lead. Post 66 allowed the opposing team three walks and one hit batter in the first two innings.
York mounted a comeback late in the game, scoring one in the third inning, four in the fourth and one in the seventh. The game ended with York having the bases loaded.
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“We were one hit away from tying the game in the seventh inning,” said Stephenson.
Post 66 was led offensively with Harrison Childers, Ryan Enniss, Shandon Cobb and Trent Alexander, all with two hits each. John Moorefield and Caleb Clayton each had one hit.
York faced South Florence in the second game of the tournament Sunday, with Trent Alexander pitching all seven innings and holding South Florence to two runs in a 3-2 Post 66 win.
The Post 66 kids scored in the third inning when left-fielder Will McSwain led off the inning with a single. Peyton Stephenson followed with a single to center-field.
With McSwain on second base, hard-hitting Caleb Clayton sent McSwain home with a line drive single to right field.
South Florence scored two in the sixth inning to take the lead on two errors from Post 66.
York answered with two runs in the bottom of the sixth. With two outs, Childers belted a single to right field. Ryan Enniss followed with a double to right center field, which scored Childers from first base to tie the game.
Ryan Gilbert doubled to left center to score Ennis with the winning run. Clayton and Childers each had two hits. Enniss, Gilbert, Cobb, McSwain and Stephenson each had hits.
Post 66 secured a spot in the American Legion Junior state tournament by defeating Spartanburg in a best-of-three series and then eliminating Gaffney in a best-of-three showdown.
York won the first game 4-0 at home behind the strong pitching of Gilbert, who hurled all seven innings, holding Gaffney to a scoreless game.
“Ryan is one of our senior pitchers who has the potential to control the opposing team’s bats,” said Stephenson.
The York Junior Legion team’s first score came in the fourth inning, when Joe Gill reached on a single to left-field. After Cobb reached first on a walk, both scored when Moorefield singled to center-field.
York added to its lead in the bottom of the sixth when McSwain reached on a walk and Moorefield followed with a home run over the left field fence to make the score 4-0
York was led offensively, with Moorefield and Childers with two hits. Clayton, Gill, and Cobb each had singles.
Defensively, York Post 66 was led by Childers behind the plate, who threw out the first Gaffney player to reach base when he tried to steal second.
The second game of the series was played in Gaffney, where Moorefield held the Gaffney team scoreless for the first three innings as Post 66 prevailed 5-1.
York scored two runs in the first inning when Moorefield and Clayton reached on walks. Gill followed with a hard hit double, scoring Moorefield and Clayton.
Stephenson led off the fourth inning with a line drive single, followed by another single from Trent Alexander to right field.
With two men on base, Childers bunted to score Stephenson. Ennis hit a line drive to the left field fence to score Clayton, who had reached on a fielder’s choice.
The game was called due to lightning in the bottom of the fourth inning and was resumed the next night with Alexander handling the pitching duties.
Gaffney had a runner on third base to start things off. The first batter for Gaffney reached on a walk. The host team attempted a delayed steal to try to score the runner from third, but that was spoiled when shortstop Moorefield gunned down the runner at the plate.
Alexander allowed no runs the remainder of the game. He was supported by the strong defensive play of Moorefield, who had several outstanding plays, including a double-play with second baseman Stephenson to end the fifth inning.
Post 66 added to its lead when Gilbert hit a ball up the middle to score Gill.
York was led offensively by Childers, who had three hits. Gill and Cobb each had two hits. Clayton, Ennis, Stephenson, Gilbert and Alexander each hit safely.
With Stephenson serving as head coach, Keith McSwain, and Danny Mazzell are the assistant coaches.
Said Stephenson: “We have a great group of guys that have been playing together for the last six years. These young men know how to play together and win.
“I am very proud of how they conduct themselves in a professional manner on and off the field. This team has the potential to bring an American Legion state championship back to York,” he said.
Monday’s game was canceled due to rain. Games were scheduled to resume Tuesday, with York to face Moncks Corner in its third game of the state tournament.
Stephenson said Post 66 showed a lot of character to bounce back from the loss to Socastee, despite outhitting them.
“I think we got caught up in the excitement of being at the state tournament in the first game and made a few mistakes we normally don’t make,” Stephenson said. “Our goal is to win the state championship and these guys can do it.”
Said Stephenson before Tuesday’s game, “We are three wins away from bringing the state championship title back to York.”
The results of the remaining games will appear in next week’s Enquirer-Herald.