Post 137 slams Wallace

Connor Grainger homered in his first two at-bats and Brooks Baldwin collected three hits to lead Whiteville Post 137 to a 15-7 win over Wallace Wednesday night. The win keeps Whiteville in second place in Area II with a 10-2 record. Hope Mills leads Area II with an 8-1 mark.

Whiteville used four pitchers in the contest. Travin Squires, CJ Coleman, AJ Brooks and Chase Lewis all saw mound duty. Post 137 will need all arms available for four games in Conway, SC this weekend. Whiteville will face Horry County, SC at 7:30 p.m. Friday. Loganville, GA will take on Post 137 in a Saturday doubleheader beginning at 12:30 p.m. Sunday, Whiteville plays Oldham, KY at 12:30 p.m. All these games are scheduled for Conway High School.

Area II playoff action is scheduled to begin the second week of July.

AA District 2 down to final two

By identical 18-1 scores undefeated Riegelwood and once-beaten Wolfpack Optimist advanced to the Dixie Youth Baseball District 2 AA finals scheduled for Thursday evening in Clarkton. Optimist defeated South Columbus in a “win or go home” contest. Riegelwood advanced its three-game scoring advantage to 49-2 by eliminating Columbus County.

Riegelwood and Wolfpack Optimist meet tonight (Thursday) 7 p.m. If the Optimist win, a second game will follow to determine the champion. If Riegelwood wins the first game, it claims the District 2 AA title.

For the third day, Wolfpack Optimist and Bladen County are scheduled to play an elimination game in the supplemental tournament. Game time is 6:30 p.m. The winner will take on Elizabethtown for the championship later in the evening.

 

Rain halts DYB AA D2 play, Riegelwood undefeated

Riegelwood’s 10-1 win over the Wolfpack Optimist Monday evening put the youngsters from the eastern end of Columbus County in the driver’s seat for the Dixie Youth District 2 AA championship. However, slick base paths at the Buddy Burney Dixie Youth Complex in Clarkton stopped all the remaining team’s drive to a title. All Tuesday’s scheduled action was postponed until Wednesday.

Monday, Riegelwood handed Wolfpack Optimist its first loss. Columbus County eliminated Nakina 11-1. Tuesday’s match ups were to be South Columbus facing the Wolfpack Optimist at 6 p.m. in an elimination game. Unbeaten Riegelwood was to take on Columbus County at 7:30 p.m. A Columbus County loss would leave the Optimist-South Columbus winner with the unenviable task of defeating Riegelwood twice to claim the title. A Columbus County win would leave three teams with one loss. The one loss team that has played the most games would receive a bye into the championship game.

For the second consecutive evening, the elimination game between Wolfpack Optimist and Bladen County was postponed. That contest was rescheduled for Thursday starting at 6:30 p.m.

Smith fans Heisman winner, update on other local players

Hunter Smith continues to pitch well for the Greenville Drive. Smith carries a record of 2-2 and an ERA of 3.55 in 38 innings of work. He has struck out 33 and walked four. Smith pitched four scoreless innings June 13, allowing two hits and striking out three against the Columbia Fireflies. One of Smith’s strike out victims was 2007 Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow.

Mike Wright has stuck with the Baltimore Oriole parent club since his most recent call up. Wright’s record is 0-0 with a 5.56 ERA. He has pitched 11 and 1/3 innings in six games with 14 strikeouts and just one walk. Wright pitched two scoreless innings in his most recent appearance, June 14, against the White Sox.

E.J. Jenkins is batting .250 since his return to the Hickory Crawdads on June 9.

Turner Brown is playing for the Bourne Braves in the Cape Cod League. Bourne opened play last night (Wednesday) with a 5-3 loss to the Cotuit Kettlers. Brown played shortstop and was 1 for 4 with a double and run scored.

Garrett Wilson picked up his first win with the Florence Red Wolves of the Coastal Plains League on June 9.

Anyone with additional information on these and other players, email franklindavis@nrcolumbus.com with details.

Wolfpack retains Columbus Cup by narrow margin

Unbeknownst to everyone, more than a conference championship, playoff seeding and bragging rights were at stake when Whiteville traveled to South Columbus for junior varsity and varsity, softball and baseball games, April 28. The outcome of the 2016-17 Columbus Cup competition most likely would be determined by the results.

Whiteville edged South Columbus, 257 to 251, to earn its fourth consecutive Columbus Cup championship. The Wolfpack trailed the Stallions heading into play April 28.

South Columbus held a six-point lead. A walk-off win in JV Baseball increased the margin to eight points. However, Whiteville wins in JV Softball, Varsity Softball and Baseball pulled the Wolfpack into a tie at the end of the evening.  A couple of different results could have given South an insurmountable lead.

The Wolfpack took a three-point Cup lead with a victory over West Columbus in a make up Varsity Softball game. South Columbus and Whiteville both earned three points with Girls Soccer wins over East Columbus and West Columbus respectively May 2. Whiteville clinched the Cup with a Girls Soccer victory over South Columbus May 3.

East Columbus finished third overall in the Columbus Cup standings. Whiteville finished first in both the varsity girls and boys divisions, followed by South Columbus. East Columbus topped the junior varsity boys followed by West Columbus. South Columbus was tops in the JV girls category followed by East Columbus. Ten points separated first from fourth in both junior varsity categories.

More information on the Columbus Cup is available at columbuscup.net.

Jeff Lamb selected as Purnell Swett baseball coach

The Robeson County Board of Education has selected Jeff Lamb as the new head baseball coach at Purnell Swett. Lamb will replace Bryan McDonald. McDonald led the Rams to 15-9 overall and the 2017 championship of the Southeastern 4A conference.

Lamb taught and coached at Williams Township during the 2016-17 school year. From 2013-2016, Lamb was the head baseball coach at West Columbus. The Vikings’ overall record during his tenure was 59-50 and conference mark was 30-22. West Columbus advanced to the second round in the 1A playoffs in both 2013 and 2014. In 2015, West Columbus advanced to the Eastern Regional series as a #22 seed. The Vikings won three consecutive road games before a walk-off win against North Duplin earned a berth in the regionals against Whiteville. Whiteville defeated the Vikings 1-0 and 9-6 in front of two of the largest crowds to witness a baseball game in Columbus County. West Columbus fell to North Moore in the opening round of the 2016 playoffs.

Prior to coaching at West Columbus, Lamb served as the head coach at Stanly Community College. He is currently serving as the head coach of  the Whiteville Post 137 American Legion team.

Frank Thoughts, The view from the press box

The thud you heard late Saturday night was probably my head hitting the pillow. Mental fatigue, that is when the brain turns to mush and you can’t think a coherent thought, is worse than physical. The baseball playoffs as a whole, but especially the finals, do that to me. With softball and baseball both playing, the opportunities to sit back and relax were few.

These thoughts aren’t about Mark Council or myself. We could remain nameless because the enjoyment we get from what we do is our reward. Added to that is the knowledge that our broadcast and tweets are the only conduit some people have to certain sporting events. I thought you might like a little insight into how it works (most of the time).

Alabama head football coach Nick Saban is all about the “process.” CCSN also has a process. In our process, it is all about the internet, not the bass. Internet connectivity is what we check first because without it, there is no broadcast. On the Monday prior to game one (scheduled for Tuesday) of the Eastern championship at Rosewood, I drove to Rosewood High to check on the wireless internet connection. Why? In 2014 Whiteville played at Rosewood. Our only internet option was to run 600 feet of cable from the coach’s office in the gym to the baseball press box. Add to that 300 feet of extension cord to put a router halfway to boost the signal. It took just 10 minutes in the press box at Rosewood that Monday to know wireless was available. I’ll trade a 180 mile drive for “internet” piece of mind anytime during the playoffs.

Two games at Riverside in Williamston went off without a hitch, four bars of 4G. Six miles down the road at Bear Grass, my cellular provider had nothing. Fortunately, I had purchased a Smart Talk “hot spot” as a back up during football season. Smart Talk picks up the strongest signal available without regard to carrier. Arnold Harwood and I headed into town to a big box store to purchase data. Dan Biser stood guard where the equipment was set up behind the backstop. This was at 3:30 in the afternoon for a 7 o’clock game and about 90 degrees. If you can’t make a scouting trip, then you go early to remove the obstacles without rushing. Connection made, game on!

Five County Stadium has almost become a second home for CCSN. We covered state championship series held there in 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2016. However, the NCHSAA chose (wisely) to put Whiteville baseball and softball at N.C. State. A major university baseball field, so obviously there wouldn’t be any issues? I will not get technical because I leave those issues to Kelly Jones. We had internet, but our audio stream would not connect. Turns out, our upload was blocked on the NCSU internet. Smart Talk to the rescue again.

In most instances the hard part is behind us. Make sure about a dozen connections are made properly and wait for the game to begin.

Twitter has become a valuable tool to provide information to the fan who wants the score, but may not be interested or in a position to follow the game on the radio or internet audio. Unfortunately, CCSN was not in a position to broadcast softball from Raleigh for a variety of reasons. We did focus on tweeting more than just a score each inning update. There is one of the reasons for the “mush” brain. The hour or two prior to the game, after everything is set up, is our time to visit with the coaches, Harry Ward and the others that arrive early and just relax. At the state championship, that time was spent following the softball, pitch by pitch, and providing Twitter updates. I’ll exchange two teams vying for state titles for seven hours in the booth every time.

Sometimes there are perks to broadcasting. In the playoffs, getting in free is not one of them. We pay a fee for each game to the NCHSAA because it controls the rights to air the games. At N.C. State, air conditioning was definitely an asset. After the almost vertical climb into the Riverside booth, sitting in the bench area in the mist with the West Columbus players at West Montgomery and among the fans at Bear Grass I think we deserved a comfortable location.

In addition to calling the game, keeping a scorebook and tweeting, we receive text messages through out the game. The number of messages quadruples in the finals. It was suggested I ignore my phone if it is a distraction, but that is how the home office in Luckenbach, Texas communicates with me, so I check every one. The “funniest” text message I receive is “what is the score?” Seriously? Turn the radio on or log on because I’m a little busy here. We do receive useful texts. Ronnie Strickland can be counted on to send a score when he is at another game. We do give shout outs unless you ask for one. The key text comes from Bert “the mailman.” It is a simple two words, “sounds good.” The broadcast is now official.

It was interesting to hear during and after the games where people were listening during the series. A couple took time from their honeymoon. Lots of people on or at the water at Lake Waccamaw, the Waccamaw River and various beaches were listening. When Kelly added the audio to our Facebook page to give listeners more listening options, we heard from Sue Burnett in England, Kevin Eason at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany as well as listeners in the states of Florida, Maryland and South Carolina. The online numbers were staggering. The ccsnaudio.net and the wzco.org servers were maxed out Friday evening. More than 70 people dialed in to listen on their phone. The addition of the Facebook audio made space for everyone Saturday.

The task is not an easy one. The view from the press box is not as glamorous as some surmise. We knew that we served as the eyes of hundreds (conservative estimate) of people over the weekend. That pressure, even if self-inflicted, is another reason for “mush” brain. Still it isn’t about us, the game is the thing. I have been told that women leaped and men wept when Jake Harwood’s hit scored Dylan Hamilton to win the game and championship. Giving people the opportunity to experience the championship vicariously provides all the satisfaction we need.

Post 137 earns three victories Sunday and Monday

Playing with a full roster for the first time, Whiteville Post 137 earned its first three wins of the season. Sunday, Post 137 swept Port City Post 565 14-2 and 14-3. Monday, Post 137 defeated Wallace 10. Whiteville Post 137 is 3-4 overall, 3-1 in Area II play.

Connor Grainger was 5 for 5 with three RBIs in Whiteville’s 14-2 win. Dawson Elliott contributed two hits. Cyrus Jacobs earned the win, allowing one run over four innings. Post 137’s 14 runs came in innings four through seven.

Brooks Baldwin and Owen McDowell led Post 137 with three hits apiece in the 14-3 win over Port City. Chase Lewis and Bray McKeithan contributed two hits. Baldwin, Lewis and Dawson Elliott scored three runs each. Trey Parrish picked up the win with relief help from Daniel Wells.

Baldwin carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning against Wallace before allowing a lead off single in Post 137’s 10-0 win over Post 156. Dawson Elliott and Hunter Ashburn each had two hits. Gage Hammonds and Connor Grainger blasted back-to-back homers in Whiteville’s six-run fourth frame.

Post 137 will host Morehead City Wednesday and Florence, SC Thursday. Post 137 home games are held at West Columbus this season due to renovations to the turf at Legion Stadium in Whiteville. Area II is no longer divided into East and West. The Area II league is composed of Whiteville, Wilmington Post 10, Hope Mills, Port City (Laney), Jacksonville, Wallace and Morehead City.

Softball heartbreak! Whiteville loses in 11th inning

A two-run homer by Alexa Sells was the key blow in North Stanly’s three run 11th inning that broke a 1-all tie that existed from the top of the fourth frame. Whiteville was able to score once in the bottom of the eleventh, but the tying run was stranded at second base.

A Santana Best single, Lauren Hilbourn sac bunt and Kourtney Grainger single gave the Wolfpack a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third. A double and two groundouts plated the tying run for North Stanly in the top of the fourth.

Ivy Hayes retired 18 of the next 20 Comet batters until the fateful 11th frame. Whiteville’s Elizabeth Wyatt, running for Hayes after she singled, advanced to third with two outs in the fourth , but was stranded. In the Wolfpack fifth, Laura Thompson drew a two-out walk. Thompson was out at the plate attempting to score on Kourtney Grainger’s double. North Stanly pitcher Merris Talbert retired the next 15 Whiteville batters before giving up the single run in the 11th.

North Stanly out hit the Wolfpack 13 to 7.  Neither team committed an error. Hayes and Talbert both went the distance for their teams. both struck out nine. Talbert walked two and Hayes just one. Hayes threw 135 pitches, 97 of those for strikes. Talbert threw 136 pitches and 93 strikes. Kourtney Grainger paced Whiteville with three hits.

The Wolfpack softball team earned its second 1A state runners-up finish in the last four seasons.

 

Fantastic comeback gives Whiteville Baseball state title

Whiteville scored five runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to capture its fourth state baseball championship in the last six years. Jake Harwood’s single scored Dylan Hamilton with the winning run.

Baldwin had three hits and drove in five runs to lead the Whiteville attack. Baldwin’s two-run single tied the score at 8-8 prior to Harwood’s single.

Murphy trailed 3-0 after Will Hinson doubled in a run and Baldwin tripled in two more in the bottom of the third. The Bulldogs scored three runs in the fourth to tie the game. Murphy scored once in the sixth to retake the lead before Baldwin doubled to score Earl Grubbs.

Murphy collected four hits, a hit batter and a walk to take an 8-4 lead in the top of the seventh before Whiteville’s comeback.

Summary of comeback. Gore reached on an error. Cameron Cartrette singled. Lincoln Ransom singled in Gore. Dylan Lawson walked. Earl Grubbs reached on a fielders choice with Joey Kurtyka (running for Cartrette) out at the plate.Will Hinson grounded out to first with Ransom scoring. Hamilton walked. Baldwin single scoring Lawson and Grubbs. Harwood singled to score Hamilton with the game winner.