Wilmington Post 10 remains in first place with walk-off victory over Whiteville Post 137
Alex Sniffen (New Hanover) might be the hottest hitter on the planet.
An argument could be made for Major League Baseball standouts Cody Bellinger of the Dodgers or Christian Yelich of the Brewers, but Sniffen’s numbers over the past month prove he belongs in the conversation.
The N.C. Central commit laced a walk-off single to right field in the seventh inning Sunday night to give Wilmington Post 10 a 3-2 victory over Whiteville Post 137.The win also keeps Wilmington (6-1, 6-1 Area II) in sole possession of first place in the Area II standings. Pleasure Island Post 129 has a league record of 9-2 and Whiteville now sits at 8-3.
As it stands now, the plan is for the top six teams in the final standings to make the playoffs with the top two receiving an opening-round bye.
“Right now, we are just trying to go one game at a time,” Sniffen said. “You have to think a little bit about the future, but mainly you just need to stay focused on your next opponent.”
Through seven American Legion games, Sniffen is hitting .440 (11-for-25) with three walks and 12 RBI. During New Hanover’s nine-game postseason run that concluded with a second straight 3A state title, Sniffen hit .367 (11-for-30) with three doubles and a home run.
Wilmington had golden opportunities to take the lead in the fifth and sixth innings, but couldn’t scratch across a run either time.
The bases were loaded with one out in the fifth, but Whiteville pitcher Dalton Simpson (North Myrtle Beach) got a strikeout and comebacker to strand all three runners. An inning later, Rocco Farmintino (Ashley) was stranded on third with one out following a strikeout and ground out.
Finally, in the bottom of the seventh, Sniffen was able to come through with a clutch hit. Shane Nolan (Topsail) worked a leadoff walk. One out walks to Matt Suggs (Hoggard/UNCW) and Brett Kemp (New Hanover/Francis Marion) loaded the bases and set the stage for the walk-off single.
“You always want to go up there and have the mindset of getting the run in, but we were playing a good team and they did a great job of competing and making pitches,” Sniffen said. “You just have to roll with the punches and keep on your feet.”Mitch Baddour (New Hanover/William Peace) improved to 2-0 by tossing five shutout innings in relief of Hunter Hodges (New Hanover). Baddour scattered four hits and struck out four.
He was able to wiggle out of a jam in the top of the seventh. Leadoff hitter Jake Harwood (Whiteville) ripped his second double down the left field line and moved to third base on a sacrifice bunt from Bud Baldwin (Whiteville).
Wilmington elected to intentionally walk Brooks Baldwin (Whiteville) and the decision paid off. Simpson popped up to shortstop Jac Croom (New Hanover) in shallow left field and Harwood was easily tagged out 10 feet in front of home plate on a botched suicide squeeze to end the inning.
“I was trying to work ahead in the count,” Baddour said. “I was able to work my breaking ball early and late in counts and the change-up was big for me tonight. It gave me a third pitch to go to.”
Simpson didn’t factor into the decision. Both runs he allowed in his six innings were unearned and he finished with seven strikeouts.
Suggs walked four times and scored Wilmington’s first run. Nolan had a double and a pair of walks from the No. 9 hole.
Wallace Post 156 4, Colchester Cannons (Vt.) 2
Frederick Post 11 (Md.) 15, Jacksonville Post 265 0
AREA II STANDINGS
(Overall Record, Area II record)
Wilmington Post 10 (6-1, 6-1)
Pleasure Island Post 129 (10-5, 9-2)
Whiteville Post 137 (8-3, 8-3)
Wallace Post 156 (8-9, 5-3)
Hope Mills Boosters Post 32 (7-6, 5-4)
Port City Post 545 (3-5, 3-5)
Hampstead Post 167 (3-8, 3-8)
Jacksonville Post 265 (2-11, 1-8)
Morehead City Post 46 (0-6, 0-6)