By RYAN HERMAN
DENVER –– Although its run at a seventh consecutive Area IV title came up short, Cherryville Post 100 has nothing to hang its head about.
Post 100, which set an Area IV record by winning six straight championships from 2007-12, couldn’t get past Lincoln County Post 455 for a shot at a seventh after falling in five games with a 5-4 defeat on Saturday.
Had it not been for a total team effort, manager Bobby Reynolds said, the series could have ended in three games after the Cardinals took a two-games-to-none lead.
But Post 100, in usual fashion, didn’t back down, and the final and deciding game actually went down to the final pitch.
“We broke it down after the ballgame on effort. We’ll use one word about the ballgame each game all throughout the year and tonight I thought that I got effort –– complete effort –– out of everybody the last three games, and that spoke for itself,” Reynolds said. “That’s the first thing that came to my mind when you look your team in the eye and know that your season’s over.”
Cherryville (18-15), which entered the postseason a game below .500, won back-to-back one-run games to force Saturday’s winner-take-all finale at East Lincoln High School.
Post 100 fell behind 5-1 but scored three in the seventh and eighth innings combined before officially having its season end on a groundout in the ninth.
Afterwards, Reynolds had nothing but positive things to say about his team, his coaching staff, and the team that denied his a chance to add to its record.
“What a ballgame. What a Game 5. We got down 2-0. Credit to my coaching staff and credit to my players on how to handle a 2-0 deficit,” he said.
“Lincoln County’s got a good ball club and I wish them the best. I thought it was a well-fought series, and either team could have won. I wish them the best of luck.”
Reynolds realizes that only one team in North Carolina will win its final game in state competition.
This year, Lincoln County has that opportunity. Cherryville does not.
“You’re either gonna win a state championship or you’re gonna lose your last game. That’s the bottom line,” he said. “That’s every team in the American Legion and in North Carolina –– they’ll win a state championship or lose their last game.”
Looking ahead to 2014, Reynolds said he will lose just three players from his 18-man roster –– pitchers Heath King and Derrick Braun and first baseman/designated hitter Tyler Shumaker.
Next season is also the final year college players will be allowed to participate, which forces Reynolds to prepare for the 2015 season two years early.
Bottom line for Reynolds is, his team needs to be better.
“Be better than the average guy. If you’re an older guy, be better than the younger guy, don’t be even with him,” Reynolds said, referring to shaping his roster for life after college players can return.
“We need to be bigger and better. If you’re not, maybe you’re gonna lose again,” he added.
“There’s no guarantees on Cherryville Post 100’s team.”