Photo by Matt Roth/The American Legion
After a hot start in their first game of The American Legion World Series, Randolph County (N.C.) Post 45 wasn’t having much luck hitting the ball early on Saturday.
Neither were their opponents, Lewiston (Idaho) Post 13, either. The North Carolina team would take advantage of some early walks to take a lead they would never relinquish in a 4-1 win in Game 8 at Keeter Stadium in Shelby, N.C.
Randolph County (40-8 overall, 2-0 in ALWS pool play) put two runners on base in the first inning off walks by Lewiston’s Wyatt Baldwin. But Dalton Hammer and Cam Morrison were left stranded.
Ryan Webb set down Lewiston’s first three batters in the bottom of the first, and the pitchers’ duel was on. Randolph County’s batters went down 1-2-3 in the second and third innings, and Peyton Williams was stranded after a walk in the fourth.
Meanwhile, Lewiston (41-12, 1-1) got singles by Jaden Phillips in the second, Kolt Olson in the third and Phillips again in the fourth but couldn’t score.
After sitting down the first two batters of the fifth, Baldwin walked Ryan Hill and Hammer, and Dawson Painter’s single coupled with a throwing error helped two runs score.
“We always start off a little anxious at the plate, chasing balls and stuff,” said Williams, who finished with two of Randolph County’s five hits Saturday. “We finally just laid low and took a minute to relax, just tried to get the job done. I guess you could say we got it done.”
Lewiston answered in the bottom of the fifth when Alexander Light singled to score Jackson Fuller to make it 2-1.
But Randolph County added insurance runs in the top of the seventh, with Morrison’s sacrifice bunt scoring Hill and Williams singling to score Painter.
In the bottom of the seventh, Lewiston had the tying run at the plate with two outs, but Williams snagged Light’s line drive for the final out.
“I read it off the bat and saw it pretty good. I knew from the get-go I was going to lay out, but it had a little bit of tail on it, and I just threw myself up in the air and saw I was within reaching distance and put a glove on it,” Williams said.
The victory sends North Carolina with some confidence into the final game of pool play, Sunday night against Arkansas (1-1). It helps that they’ve got the largest group of supporters in the stands at Keeter Stadium, as Randolph County is just over 120 miles from Shelby.
“Just knowing that we’ve got most of the fans out in these stands are pulling for us, makes you feel good,” Williams said.
Lewiston is still in the hunt for a berth in the semifinals; they’ll face New Jersey (0-2) in Game 11 on Sunday.