Whiteville Post 137 sweeps Port City Post 545 in first round of Area II playoffs

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After dealing with unfriendly weather on back-to-back nights, No. 4 Whiteville Post 137 and No. 5 Port City Post 545 finally got to compete in their American Legion Baseball Area II first round playoff series on Wednesday evening at Laney.

Whiteville Post 137 picked up a pair of victories (4-2 in Game 1 and 6-1 in nine innings in Game 2) to sweep the series and advance to the semifinals. They will take on either No. 1 Wilmington Post 10 or No. 2 Pleasure Island Post 129 in another best-of-3 series beginning later this week.

Here is a recap of both games.

Game 1: Whiteville Post 137 4, Port City Post 545 2

A two-out throwing error kept the bottom of the sixth inning alive and Whiteville took advantage of the extra out by getting a two-run single from Bud Baldwin (Whiteville) that scored Braylon Williamson (West Bladen) and Will Hinson (Whiteville) with the winning runs.

Whiteville (10-7) built a 2-0 lead in the first inning on a wild pitch and a passed ball. Port City (7-8) cut the deficit in half on and RBI ground out from Toby Stone (Laney) that scored Matt Linkner (Laney).

Linkner led off the sixth inning with a double to left field, moved to third on a ground out and scored on another ground out to tie the score.

After two quick outs in the bottom of the sixth, Williamson singled to left. Hinson followed with a grounder to third, but an errant throw allowed both runners to advance a base and set the stage for Bud Baldwin’s key hit.

Port City loaded the bases with one out in the seventh inning, but reliever Jake Harwood (Whiteville) induced a game-ending double play to secure the save.

Dalton Simpson (North Myrtle Beach) earned the victory by allowing two runs on four hits and striking out five in six innings.

Sam Garcia (Laney) was the hard-luck loser. He allowed only one earned run and struck out six in a complete-game effort. Linkner was productive from the leadoff spot, going 2-for-4 with a pair of runs.

Game 1: Whiteville Post 137 6, Port City Post 545 1 (9 innings)

Jeremiah Locklear (Purnell Swett) was dominant on the mound, allowing an unearned run on four hits while striking out 10 over nine innings to help Whiteville complete the sweep and advance to the semifinals.

Locklear finished the game with 94 pitches, including a remarkable 77 for strikes. He threw a first-pitch strike to 25 of the 29 batters he faced and needed exactly 10 pitches in seven of his nine innings.

“That was probably my third time this year having a performance like that, because I had two really dominant starts during the high school season,” Locklear said.

Whiteville (11-7) couldn’t muster much offense and was down to its final out, but a wild pitch allowed courtesy runner Ethan Hinson (West Columbus) to score and send the game to extra innings.

Catcher Jake Butler (Whiteville) led off the inning with a double down the left field line and was replaced on the bases by Hinson, who advanced to third on a wild pitch.

Port City (7-9) starter Chase Hall retired the next two batters, but his first pitch to Dalton Simpson (North Myrtle Beach) went to the backstop and allowed Hinson to cross the plate.

Whiteville sent 10 batters to the plate in the five-run ninth inning that featured two hits and four walks.

Port City grabbed a 1-0 lead in the second inning on an error. Toby Stone (Laney) led off with a single and moved to third on a double from Sam Garcia (Laney). Garcia also singled in the eighth inning and Matt Linkner had the only other hit – a leadoff single in the first.

Hall didn’t factor into the decision. He allowed one run on six hits and struck out six in his seven innings of work.

Other scores

Game 2: Hope Mills Booster Post 32 8, Wallace Post 156 4 (series is tied at 1)