Kinston Post 43 advances to state championship

Kinston Post 43 advances to state championship

Kinston Post 43’s Trey McLawhorn had a 5-RBI Game 4 to help the team defeat Pitt County Post 39 7-6. Photo by William ‘Bud’ Hardy / Neuse News

Kinston Post 43 showed its ability to come back Thursday and picked up a pair of impressive victories.

Kinston Post 43 defeated Pitt County Post 39 8-6 and 7-6, winning Games 3 and 4 of the Area 1 East Finals at the Ronnie Battle Baseball Complex at Kinston High School. After dropping the first game of the series and dealing with rain delays Tuesday and Wednesday, Kinston Post 43 won the next three games, including the highly contested matches Thursday.

“This team’s got a lot of fight,” Kinston Post 43 coach Ty Eason said. “(Those were) two quality wins over a really good team, but at the end of the day we felt like we had a good chance to make a comeback. I told the guys before Game 1: we don’t wait for it to rain, we make it rain and we stay by that mentality.”

In Game 3, Kinston Post 43 opened the scoring in the bottom of the second with a wild pitch, but Pitt County Post 39 responded by batting around and picking up four runs. The score remained the same until the bottom of the fifth when Jalin Connor hit a 2-out, 2-run single and a throwing error brought home a third to tie the match at 4.

One inning later, Cameron Butler’s and Brendon Grant hit back-to-back RBI singles and Ethan May added a 2-run single to put Kinston Post 43 ahead 8-4. Pitt County Post 39 did start the top of the seventh with three walks and a hit by pitch to get within 8-5, but after a sacrifice fly, Jon Howard got the final two outs by means of a strikeout and flyout to end the contest.

Kinston Post 43’s Jamir Jones-Gatling threw 3 1/3 innings of relief in Game 3 of the team’s 8-6 win over Pitt County Post 39. Photo by William ‘Bud’ Hardy / Neuse News

Kinston Post 43’s Jamir Jones-Gatling threw 3 1/3 innings of relief in Game 3 of the team’s 8-6 win over Pitt County Post 39. Photo by William ‘Bud’ Hardy / Neuse News

In Game 4, Kinston Post 43 was the designated road team and again opened the scoring in the second — this time, Howard hit an RBI triple and Trey McLawhorn added a run-scoring single. Pitt County Post 39 responded in the bottom of the frame with a Wade Jarman RBI double and two run-scoring wild pitches to take a 3-2 advantage.

Both teams posted three runs in the third — Kinston Post 43 picked up a 2-run double from McLawhorn and RBI single from May and Pitt County Post 39 got its runs from an error, wild pitch and Anthony Saieed RBI single — and the score remained the same until McLawhorn hit his third two-run shot in two days in the top of the fifth to put Post 43 ahead 7-6.  

“I was really seeing the ball well,” McLawhorn said about his 5-RBI Game 4. “I was sitting back (and) seeing a lot of curveballs, but got my fastball (in the fifth) and took it for a little ride.”

Howard threw four innings of relief in Game 4, and after getting the first two outs of the bottom of the seventh, Ryker Galaska singled and Butler went in to pitch. Butler gave up a walk and hit a batter to load the bases, but struck out Josh McCarter to end the game and set off a wild celebration.

“I’m not even a pitcher, so I don’t even know what to say,” Butler said with a laugh. “It felt good (and) I had to do something to help the team win.”

Now, the team will play the Area 1 West champion Sunday in a series and location to be determined before heading to Cherryville for the state championships. The game against the West champion will only determine seeding in the playoffs.

“We’re going to take a well-needed rest,” Eason said. “We’re going to take a lot of days off, let the guys have fun and be teenage boys. Then, we’re on the way to Cherryville.”

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