Youthful Post 10 team hoping for success at state tournament
Wilmington Post 10 is the most decorated American Legion Baseball program in the state. They’ve won a record 12 state titles, including the past two (2018 and 2019).
Now, a new group of players will look to carry on the legacy. Wilmington (12-0) won the Area II title to earn a berth in the state tournament for the 12th time in 13 years.
They will open pool play against Area IV runner-up Rutherford County Post 423 at 1 p.m. Wednesday in Cherryville.
The other two teams in the Stripes pool are Area I champion Fuquay-Varina Post 116 and Area III runner-up Kannapolis Post 115. The top two teams will qualify for Saturday’s semifinals.
Since the 2020 season was canceled due to COVID-19, Wilmington lacks the state championship experience it usually has. Only three players on the current roster – Jason Culley (Hoggard), Chase Hardee (New Hanover) and Ben Whitehurst (Hoggard) – were on the 2019 team that cruised to an 11-5 victory over Fuquay-Varina in the championship game.“It’s going to be different, but at the same time it’s going to be exciting,” Wilmington coach Scott Sandlin said. “We’re hoping to play well and we’re hoping the the kids have a great experience.”
Wilmington’s 2019 team had a potent offense that scored 46 runs in six games (9.2 per game) at the state tournament to claim a second straight title.
This year’s lineup doesn’t have the same kind of firepower, but Wilmington has still managed to average 9.7 runs over 11 games (one win came via forfeit against Jacksonville Post 265).
“We’ve always gone into each season wanting to have a number of different ways to beat you, whether it was with the short game or we’re real aggressive on the bases or we’re letting our big guys get to the plate and drive the baseball,” Sandlin said. “I feel like we’ve got a little bit of all of that with this year’s team.”
Catcher Drew Tyndall (Ashley) has had a terrific summer in his first season with the program. In addition to being one of the team’s top hitters, Tyndall has been exceptional behind the plate.“I typically lead by action since I’m not a loud kind of guy,” Tyndall said. “I think we can have success up there this week if we stay composed.”
Spencer Nolan (Hoggard), Jaxson Croom (Hoggard), Barrett Swails (Ashley) and Bennett McNeill (Hoggard) join Tyndall at the top of the lineup.
Wilmington’s deep pitching staff, which is anchored by Whitehurst and Tanner Collins (Ashley), has allowed only 12 runs all season.
Hardee, Tucker Bowyer (Hoggard), Aleck Creech (New Hanover), Jacob Savage (Hoggard), Brody Sumner (Hoggard) and Cooper Wallace (Hoggard) could also see time on the mound if Wilmington can make a deep run into the weekend.
“Teams can sometimes run out of arms, but I feel like we’ve got plenty,” Whitehurst said. “Everybody who has pitched has done great this summer.”
N.C. American Legion Baseball State Tournament Schedule
Stars Pool: Cherryville Post 100 (host and Area IV champ), Port City Post 545 (Area II runner-up), Rowan County Post 342 (Area III champ) and Wayne County Post 11 (Area 1 runner-up)
Stripes Pool: Fuquay-Varina Post 116 (Area I champ), Kannapolis Post 115 (Area III runner-up), Rutherford County Post 423 (Area IV runner-up) and Wilmington Post 10 (Area II champ)
Game 1: Port City vs. Rowan County , 10 a.m.
Game 2: Rutherford County vs. Wilmington, 1 p.m.
Game 3: Fuquay-Varina vs. Kannapolis, 4 p.m.
Game 4: Cherryville vs. Wayne County, 7 p.m.
Game 5: Kannapolis vs. Rutherford County, 10 a.m.
Game 6: Port City vs. Wayne County, 1 p.m.
Game 7: Fuquay-Varina vs. Wilmington, 4 p.m.
Game 8: Cherryville vs. Rowan County, 7 p.m.
Game 9: Fuquay-Varina vs. Rutherford County, 1o a.m.
Game 10: Rowan County vs. Wayne County, 1 p.m.
Game 11: Cherryville vs. Port City, 4 p.m.
Game 12: Kannapolis vs. Wilmington, 7 p.m.
Semifinals at 4 and 7 p.m.
Final at TBA