Special to LTN
CHERRYVILLE — If Tuesday was an off night for Dylan Hastings, opponents can’t be eager to find out what it’s like to hit against the Cherryville Post 100 right-hander when he has his good stuff.
Hastings scattered seven hits and three walks in tossing a complete game as Post 100 beat Gastonia Post 23 5-0 in Game 1 of the best-of-five series in the first round of the N.C. Area IV American Legion playoffs.
“My arm didn’t feel that good because I was 87-88 (mph) the other night and tonight I was only 84-86,” said Hastings after improving to 6-1 and topping the 130-pitch mark. “I guess I just had to work my arm speed a lot better.”
He did just that, keeping the Post 23 lineup off balance with an array of fastballs and breaking pitches. He struck out seven and allowed just one baserunner to reach third base and four others to reach second.
“It takes a lot of stress off the other pitchers,” Brett Huff said of Hastings’ performance. “He’s pitched like that all season. He’s been on top of his game all season. It makes it a whole lot less stressful.”
Huff, the rising senior at West Lincoln, was again right in the middle of Post 100’s scoring attack.
In the third inning, Post 100 leadoff hitter Thomas Bess (2-4, two runs) singled off Post 23 starter Jared Wallace and stole second with two outs. Huff then lined a single to left field to give Cherryville a 1-0 advantage. Tyler Shumaker singled and Blake Mosteller walked to load the bases. Brandon Alexander grounded to short, but Post 23 shortstop Garrett Lowery bobbled the ball and then threw wildly past second baseman Dale Rauch, allowing two more runs to score.
Wallace went all eight innings for Post 23, allowing 10 hits, two walks, striking out five and allowing just two earned runs.
“Thomas, he’s the leader on this team,” Huff said. “He’s supposed to get on base and it’s my job to get him over. Getting that first run was huge because our bats were slow starting and getting three runs with two outs, that really helped us out.”
That was more than enough for Hastings.
Post 23 mounted its most serious scoring threat in the top of the third. Sawyer Sparrow singled, stole second and reached third on a fly out to right fielder Dustin Wilson. But Hastings got Trevor Bridges to pop up to second and Lowery grounded back to the mound to end the inning.
Post 23 stranded 10 runners on base and Hastings only set them down in order once — a 1-2-3 ninth inning.
“It just makes me want to throw better,” said Hastings, a former Cherryville High School standout. “But it’s always big to get that first win.”
Post 100 added two more runs in the fifth. Bess singled to lead off the inning and Huff reached on an error. Mosteller hit a sacrifice fly to score Bess and Huff scored from first on Sam Travis’ flare to right field that dropped just out of reach of several Post 23 players.
The series moves to Sims Legion Park in Gastonia for Game 2 tonight when Post 100 will continue its quest to win a record sixth consecutive Area IV title.
“It’s huge,” said Huff, who just missed a home run when he doubled off the right-center fence in the seventh inning. “We are one of the top seeds, but it’s huge to get that first game and hopefully we’ll get (Tuesday) too.”